Erdogan’s biggest opponent

By | May 8, 2023

Hakim Ekinci, an Istanbul hairdresser and longtime supporter of Tayyip Erdogan, will not vote for him in next Sunday’s election. since it considers the economic policy of the president responsible for the reduction of purchasing power in the country and due to the fact that many citizens no longer have the possibility to buy even basic food.

Erdogan and his Islamist-conservative Justice and Development (AKP) party have managed to maintain their electoral base, which consists mainly of low-income conservative Muslim Turks, thanks to the country’s strong economic growth during his first decade in power.

But the cost of living crisis, Sparked by Erdogan’s unorthodox economic program over the past year and a half, he has reached his popularity ratings and is now turning out to be the biggest electoral challenge in his two decades in power.

Some polls show Erdogan trailing his rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, in the polls. ahead of the first round of the elections next Sunday, although the margin has narrowed.

The race to secure seats in the Turkish parliament remains on a razor’s edge with the opposition likely to win a narrow majority.

“With 150-200 Turkish liras (about 7 or 9 euros) we could buy three to four bags of vegetables. Together with my wife we ​​could barely lift them. Now we can barely fill two bags,” says 63. Ekinci, 19, stops briefly to cut a customer’s hair at his barbershop in the Besiktas district of Istanbul.

“I would say that those who govern us are to blame. I think that their wrong decisions are to blame. I was a sympathizer of the AKP, but now I don’t think I’m going to vote for him,” he points out, while AMPE reports.

Ekinci’s Opinions represent millions of Turks, who for years were called upon to handle galloping inflation.

Food prices in April posted 54% annual growth with headline inflation slowing to 43.7% after peaking at 85.5% in October – the highest level during Erdogan’s rule.

Annual inflation has remained in double digits for nearly the entire five years since the 2018 general election.

It started rising after the currency crisis in late 2021, triggered by a series of interest rate cuts that went hand in hand with Erdogan’s unorthodox views.

As Ekinci says, he began to question his support for the president and the AKP on financial grounds shortly after the 2018 election, and his final decision not to vote for them again came after the 2021 currency crisis.

The Turkish lira lost 44% in 2021 and 30% in 2022.

It lost 76% during Erdogan’s second term as president, which was marked by several currency crises due to his unorthodox policies, geopolitical developments, such as the war in Ukraine, and clashes between Ankara and Washington.

“The exchange rate is out of control. We can’t buy anything. They didn’t keep anything they said, so I don’t trust them,” Ekinji explains.

words and deeds

This Turkish barber works alone after being forced to fire his two employees. In fact, he says, he cannot get a loan despite the reduction in interest rates, since the authorities have restricted the granting of consumer credit to stabilize inflation.

Besides, your foreign currency loans multiplied in lira terms with the Turkish lira slide.

However, many AKP voters still believe that only Erdogan can fix the economy or attribute its current state to other factors.

Halima Duman, who lives in Istanbul, says that what is responsible for the rising cost of living is that businessmen raise prices to make more profit.

“Erdogan can solve it with one move,” he estimates, taking a break from shopping at a vegetable market in the city center.

The opposition, including Kilicdaroglu’s opposition alliance, are just talk, in his opinion.

“They do nothing,” he argues.

Birol Baskan, a writer and political analyst who is not affiliated with any party, says that even Erdogan’s “hardliners” do not deny that the economy is not as good as it was at the start of his term.

“The reason this party has continued to win is because it has been delivering certain benefits to its voters. This is the first time that the magic seems to be failing because of the economy, because of high inflation (and) rising cost It has hit people in the wallet and that is, I imagine, the reason why victory in these elections is no longer guaranteed ”, he estimates.

“Hungry and Hungry Only”

some voters they are not convinced that the opposition can calm economic concerns immediately.

Talat Gul, a marble worker, never voted for the AKP or its allies.

All he can see now is “hunger and nothing but hunger” around him, but he doubts things will change anytime soon if the opposition wins.

“The last 21 years have created a Türkiye that cannot be changed. It will take 20 years to recover, whoever comes to power. But I want Erdogan to go, ”he says.

ekinci he has not yet decided which of Erdogan’s three possible opponents he will vote for.

“(Kilicdaroglu) can be honest… but they haven’t announced anything to convince me. I want the dollar to go down after the elections. I want the price of gasoline to go down. I want inflation to go down. I want to go back to the life that I was five or six years ago. I want to be able to go on picnics, travel abroad,” he says.

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