The Turkish Lira has lost over 60% of its value since the beginning of 2018, with a dramatic drop in December. The currency is at risk and as President Erdogan’s approval rating declines amid economic struggles.
The “currency in turkey” is a currency that has been in use for hundreds of years. The Turkish Lira has experienced a drastic decline over the past few months, and this has caused many people to question the stability of Erdogan’s presidency.
RIZE, TURKEY (AP) — Residents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s homeland on Turkey’s Black Sea coast are doubting Erdogan’s leadership amid an economic crisis that has driven up the cost of food, fuel, and medication.
According to analysts and former Turkish officials, Turkey’s currency has lost up to 45 percent of its value this year, owing mostly to Mr. Erdogan’s own economic policies. According to opinion surveys, the situation has prompted indignation among the poor and middle classes in Turkey, who have been Mr. Erdogan’s political base for over two decades but are now turning against him in historic numbers.
Rize has been struck particularly hard by the currency collapse, with soaring fertilizer and raw material prices undermining tea cultivation, the region’s principal crop and the lifeblood of its economy. Even in a city that has long prided itself on its link to Mr. Erdogan, who spent his early youth here, residents and political watchers believe the president’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is losing popularity.
“I’m asking the AKP members, aren’t you terrified of losing the election?” Nevzat Palic, the chairman of Rize’s Chamber of Agriculture, which represents 50,000 farmers, stated, “The people, the tea growers, are suffering here.”
Plants that have been damaged in a tea estate near Rize, Turkey. The depreciation of the Turkish lira has increased the cost of fertilizer and other tea-related expenses.
Mr. Palic, a suited and mustachioed man whose Rize office is adorned with photos of him sitting with Mr. Erdogan, took another photo from his desk, this time of him shaking hands with Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s largest opposition party, a sign of his dissatisfaction with the government.
“People have always voted for the AKP since our president is from Rize, but they didn’t suffer as badly in those years.” “The folks have suffered greatly in the previous two years,” he remarked.
Economists think Mr. Erdogan’s actions are mostly to blame for Turkey’s economic woes. The president has urged the central bank to decrease interest rates despite rising inflation, part of an unorthodox plan he claims is aimed to stimulate exports and economic development, after sacking a string of senior officials who disagreed with him.
The situation deteriorated further on Monday, when the lira hit a new low after an investor selloff sparked by statements by Turkey’s finance minister, which fueled fears that the central bank would lower interest rates again when it meets on December 16. The central bank then stepped in to stop the lira from falling further, selling foreign currency for the fourth time in as many weeks.
In order to keep inflation under control, central banks usually boost interest rates. According to official estimates, inflation in Turkey reached more than 21% in November. Mr. Erdogan’s plan has also caused the lira to plummet in value, losing about 30% of its value in November alone.
“We know where we’re heading,” Mr. Erdogan said in a televised speech on Wednesday. “I encourage our people to be patient.”
Mehmet Alibaris, a Turkish farmer in Pazar, near Rize, on his tea estate. ‘We’ve reached the very bottom of the well. ‘We don’t have any more buying power,’ he said.
The fall of the currency spurred demonstrations in cities around Turkey, fuelling public dissatisfaction with the administration. In a poll issued this week, MAK, a pro-government political consulting organization, reported the AKP’s vote share had dropped below 30% for the first time ever. In Turkey’s most recent parliamentary election in 2018, the governing party received 42 percent of the vote. In the same year’s presidential election, Mr. Erdogan received 52 percent of the vote.
The economic crisis is putting strain on regular people even in a conservative, nationalist-leaning neighborhood like Rize, where Mr. Erdogan’s visage is plastered on lampposts and highway overpasses. Thousands of modest family tea plantations, little green estates draped on the mountainsides, surround the city, where farmers grumble that fertilizer and raw materials are now more expensive.
“We’ve reached the very bottom of the well.” Mehmet Alibaris, whose tea estate in Rize has been ravaged by inflation, remarked, “We have no purchasing power left.” Fertilizer expenses have increased by 33% this year, while labor costs have doubled, he added. “Anyone who can get rid of this government gets my vote.”
Residents in Rize, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hometown, are questioning his leadership as prices for common commodities rise.
Farmers could cope with the present economic condition for another four or five months, according to Hasan Kasap, the chairman of Rize’s tea growers’ organization. “However, if things keep on this way, there will be a collapse,” he said.
Mr. Erdogan may be relying on his personal ties to the region, as well as a history of government handouts to the city’s economy, in Rize. Workers are constructing a massive new airport near the Black Sea just outside the city.
Mr. Erdogan survived a 2016 military coup attempt, a prior currency crisis in 2018, and has frequently won elections by outflanking Turkey’s diverse opposition. Some analysts believe he would attempt to temporarily alleviate the pain of the present crisis by increasing government expenditure, in the hopes of reviving his electoral prospects. According to people familiar with the president, he has also sought to blame the issue on foreign forces in a bid to stoke nationalist feeling.
“He’s trying to create the impression that the economic issues are the result of a foreign assault by using vocabulary like ‘economic war of independence,’ but it’s no longer working,” said Mustafa Yeneroglu, a member of parliament who recently left Mr. Erdogan’s party. “In his hat, there are no more rabbits.”
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Despite two decades of the AKP weakening state institutions, expanding its influence over the Turkish media, and defeating opponents in a succession of elections, the Turkish opposition is hopeful that they may overthrow Mr. Erdogan and his administration for the first time.
Mr. Erdogan, who has been elected to the president twice, is limited to two terms under the Turkish constitution. His aides, on the other hand, insist he will run in the country’s next election in 2023, claiming that his current term is the first since the country’s constitution was revised in 2017 to switch to a presidential style of administration. The administration has rebuffed demands for early elections from the opposition.
In written remarks to The Wall Street Journal, Mehmet Uçum, the president’s main legal counsel, stated, “Mr. Erdogan does not have an issue according to the two-term restriction.”
Mr. Erdogan’s opponents have created a six-party coalition devoted to opposing him, including two new parties run by former AKP leaders who have broken ranks with the president.
“I used to receive a lot of phone calls from people in the AKP saying things like, ‘You sold out the cause, you left our chief, you betrayed us,’” said Omer Lutfi Koroglu, the Rize branch leader of one of those parties, Democracy and Progress.
“Now they understand why we left the AKP after all these economic hardships.” “Now they’re saying, ‘You were correct.’”
Jared Malsin can be reached at [email protected]
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