“Why do I want an electric car if I can’t even pay the electricity bill?” asks Mehmed, a resident of Kasimpasa who goes to the mayor’s office of this neighborhood where Recep Tayyip Erdogan was born to ask for help. Wherever the eyes fixate, there are photos of a president who made the premiere of TOOG one of his campaign milestones, it is the first electric vehicle in a country where citizens are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. The economic crisis, however, takes its toll on an Erdogan who is facing the second round of the presidential elections as a favorite, according to polls. In front of him will be the leader of the opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
Uncertainty grows in the streets about the outlook that is coming after the presidential elections and everyone who can changes their liras to dollars or euros. The net foreign exchange reserves of Turkey’s central bank are negative for the first time since 2002 and the opposition accuses the president of emptying the reserves to prevent the collapse of the lira’s value against the dollar before the elections. In September 2021, a dollar was equivalent to 8 liras, a year later to 19, and now it exceeds 20. A direct consequence of this devaluation is strong inflation.
“The main reason why the economic crisis does not affect Erdogan as much as expected is that people prioritize security over the economy and (anti-LGTBQ) family values over bread on the table,” says the analyst. Imdat Oner. This researcher at the Jack D. Gordon Institute at the University of Florida establishes bridges with Argentina and warns of the risk of a Turkish “corralito” since “both countries have high inflation and have negative net reserves. In Argentina, this has led to the creation of multiple exchange rates. The government imposes controls on residents’ foreign currency. I expect similar cases in Türkiye after May 28. The black market has already started to appear in the last few weeks and I think currency controls will be applied, which will deepen the devaluation in the black market.”
At the moment, a limit of $5,000 (4,600 euros to change) for companies as the maximum daily amount that they can use from their accounts.
Interests and Islam
Inflation in Turkey stands at 44 percent, reached the 85 percent in October, but on the eve of the final appointment with the polls the Central Bank announced that it is keeping interest rates at 8.5 percent. Erdogan is the person who controls the country’s economy and does not plan to stray from his strategy of keeping interest rates low “because in his religious ideology interest is haram (sin) and he will go all the way with this approach,” explains a banking expert. International with more than two decades of experience in the country.
Erdogan’s theory is that high interest rates generate inflation and no one in his close circle has disputed a single decision for a long time. His tenacity has caused so far an uncontrolled rise in prices to levels that have made the prices of onions or cucumbers the subject of electoral debate.
The crisis drowns, but Erdogan found the rescue of Gulf countries that he did not want to specify and that sent money to resolve treasury tensions in the short term. In an interview with CNN-Turk, the president accused the opposition of resorting to “shadow forces” with the aim of collapsing the economy and revealed that “some Gulf states” they helped to alleviate “in the short term” the situation of the Central Bank. Certain of his victory at the polls, Erdogan said that he would visit the leaders of each of these countries to thank them for the injection of money.
All help is little in the face of key elections before which the president has thrown the house out the window paying the nation’s gas bills, increasing the minimum wage to set it at 8,500 lire (about 460 euros) or early retirement of civil servants.
The Economist Bilge Yilmaz, A member of the opposition, he took to Twitter to warn that in the event of Erdogan’s victory “the economy will stop, companies will go bankrupt, the black market will flourish and unemployment will grow. These elections are the last chance to save our economy.”
In the Turkish media there is no space for these messages and they only show the progress made by the government in recent decades, with preferential space for innovations such as the TOGG, the vehicle that brought Mehmed down the street from bitterness in Kasimpasa. The vast majority of the country is informed in Turkish, does not speak another language and follows the national media. They don’t know the inflation rate or the human rights violations, the only thing that exists for this part of Turkey is an Erdogan who has turned the country into a military power and their vote will be for Erdogan.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism