Turkish opposition can end the country’s economic crisis

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As the power of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan weakens, the crisis in the Turkish economy deepens. Since the end of 2012, the Turkish lira has lost more than 80% of its value, the worst fall in the developing world after the Argentine peso.

In its unsuccessful attempt to prop up the lira, Ankara turned on the money tap and blew up more than $ 128 billion in foreign exchange reserves, which many respectable economists now see as negative. In less than two years, the Central Bank of Turkey has had three governors. Just last month, rumors in foreign media about a replacement at the Central Bank, followed by the sacking of three of its six board members, another defiant interest rate cut. All economic logic and Erdogan’s threat to expel ambassadors from 10 European countries have spilled oil on a five-alarm fire.

For Turkish citizens, prices keep increasing. Inflation approached 20% in September. According to Turkey’s largest union, more than 7 million minimum wage workers suffer from hunger. Polls show that nearly two-thirds of the Turkish population is struggling to make ends meet. Turkey’s best and brightest are emigrating en masse, even though the Minister of Labor thinks they are leaving not because something is wrong in the country, but because they are free-spirited adventurers.

As the power of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan weakens, the crisis in the Turkish economy deepens. Since the end of 2012, the Turkish lira has lost more than 80% of its value, the worst fall in the developing world after the Argentine peso.

In its unsuccessful attempt to prop up the lira, Ankara turned on the money tap and blew up more than $ 128 billion in foreign exchange reserves, which many respectable economists now see as negative. In less than two years, the Central Bank of Turkey has had three governors. Just last month, rumors in foreign media about a replacement at the Central Bank, followed by the sacking of three of its six board members, another defiant interest rate cut. All economic logic and Erdogan’s threat to expel ambassadors from 10 European countries have spilled oil on a five-alarm fire.

For Turkish citizens, prices keep increasing. Inflation approached 20% in September. According to Turkey’s largest union, more than 7 million minimum wage workers suffer from hunger. Polls show that nearly two-thirds of the Turkish population is struggling to make ends meet. Turkey’s best and brightest are emigrating en masse, even though the Minister of Labor thinks they are leaving not because something is wrong in the country, but because they are free-spirited adventurers.

While friendly companies receive billions of dollars in tax amnesty, average citizens who buy an imported car pay almost three times its original price in indirect taxes, which represent half of Turkey’s public revenue and fall mainly on small businesses. companies and employees.

The country’s main business groups – the Turkish Industry and Business Association and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges – have abandoned their penchant for avoiding political controversy to publicly criticize the government’s economic management. Even the famous Mehmet Omer Koc, whose Koc Holding is Turkey’s largest industrial conglomerate and accounts for nearly 6% of the country’s GDP, broke his silence to lament the rise in consumer prices, soaring exchange rates. and the exodus of foreign investors.

Like a frog in boiling water, Erdogan’s government seems unfazed by the economic maelstrom that threatens to destroy it. For the rise in prices, their culprits are the gourmet supermarket chains. The solution? The government will open its own grocery stores to sell produce directly from state-owned agricultural cooperatives, as Erdogan announced earlier this month, unaware that the store where he posed smiling for the cameras was in actually more expensive than the supermarket chains it has. been denigrated.

Senior officials of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) extol live on television the virtues of hunger as a means of self-discipline, which even the Prophet Muhammad exercised. Meanwhile, a new corruption scandal erupts almost every week and the extravagant lifestyles of AKP scions are exposed on social media.

Not surprisingly, many citizens want a change. In March 2019, they already sent a strong message to the government by electing opposition candidates for mayor of five of Turkey’s seven largest cities. Instead of correcting the situation, Erdogan turned and forced a controversial replay in Istanbul. His hand-picked candidate, former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, lost again by an even larger margin. Polls show more than half of the public expect Erdogan to lose in the next election, including a quarter of AKP supporters and nearly 40% of those who support Erdogan’s coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party. Change is in the air, more than ever.

A key element of this shifting momentum is the rise of a new political style that articulates a positive vision for the country and gives primacy to reason over emotion, compromise over conflict and unity over division. Turkey’s political custom is for the pious, secular, Turks and Kurds to separate rather than unite around their common interests.

Erdogan’s Kulturkampf which reduced the country to an us versus them binary has also glossed over leadership failures and inefficient management in everything from banks to barracks. Today, a diverse coalition, comprising ex-AKP renegades and secular nationalists as well as moderate Kurds and left-wing progressives, are putting their differences aside to unite around the common cause of more democracy. , a better economy and a return to normalcy.

Gone is the aura of invincibility that surrounded Erdogan and the electric atmosphere that characterized his gatherings. Instead, opposition leaders are drawing enthusiastic crowds and making headlines. Everywhere they go, voters are voicing the same concerns: New college graduates can’t find jobs, white-collar workers seek overseas opportunities, minimum-wage workers and retirees struggle to make ends meet, small business owners are barely afloat, investors are losing faith in the economy, and parents are worried about their children. It seems that empty refrigerators and slimming wallets are powerful enough to bridge old political and ideological divisions.

As other parties gain momentum, the practical question of whether the opposition can stabilize the ship after Erdogan’s departure arises. It is not easy to undo the legacy of the AKP’s ambitious campaign to reshape Turkish society as it sees fit and extend its influence over all aspects of economic, political and cultural life. A recent poll by respected pollster Metropoll found that the public is distribute evenly On the question. Even among opposition supporters, 1 in 5 people fear the task will be too difficult to complete.

Turkey’s big tent opposition has detailed plans to lift the country out of its current crisis and has the people to put those plans into action. Indeed, the opposition has some of the best legal, economic and political minds in the country, including seasoned business leaders and world-renowned academics. While Erdogan and his aides are busy attacking imaginary enemies, the opposition has presented detailed policy proposals on how to turn the economy around and return Turkey to normal.

The first order of business is to overthrow the imperial presidency, which is at the root of Turkey’s unease as it places all power in the hands of one man, reduces parliament to a buffer for its decisions and leaves a Entire state captive to its whims and temperament. The six opposition parties are already discussing the details of how this will be done.

Despite leading the polls, Meral Aksener, leader of the center-right Iyi (Bon) party – of which we are a member – has excluded himself from the 2023 presidential race and has declared his intention to run for office. post of Prime Minister after leading the charge. on ambitious reforms, including the reduction of the president to a ceremonial role; restore the powers of the legislature; extend democratic control; and strengthen judicial independence, regulatory autonomy and merit-based recruitment in the public sector. Passing such reforms without delay would mean that a future president might not be tempted to block the process to retain Erdogan’s vast powers.

The opposition is also working hard on market-oriented and forward-looking reforms that will once again make Turkey a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. Some of his proposals are refreshingly creative and surprisingly achievable. For example, the opposition plans to increase government revenues by a third party using a blockchain-based real-time tax data tracking system that equalizes tax pressure and slows down the informal economy, which currently represents more than a quarter of economic activity and is one of the largest in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

With these additional resources, it will be possible to hire 100,000 new teachers, provide start-up grants to 5,000 new businesses per year, provide a monthly stipend for 2 million low-income youth, eliminate car sales taxes, cut the gasoline tax in half, abolish age limits for workers who have completed their pension contributions, and fund at least two infrastructure megaprojects each year. Another proposal promises to end child poverty by providing free breakfast and school meals to 250,000 preschoolers and 2 million schoolchildren while creating more than 300,000 well-paying jobs, many of which will be reserved for women.

As Erdogan’s government seems stuck in its old ways, the opposition is revitalizing the political conversation with bold and innovative ideas, from a universal basic income for young people to a new industrial policy, including a national plan for symbiotic production clusters and a completely renovated research and development infrastructure on the model of the Fraunhofer institutes in Germany.

As difficult as the task can be, the key to ending the economic crisis in Turkey is quite simple: do your homework and prepare yourself. Unlike Erdogan’s raging administration, this is exactly what the Turkish opposition is doing.



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