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The battered Turkish economy puts the powerful Erdogan to the test

Istanbul-Last month, perplexed by restrictions on his tobacco shop, Ozgur Akbas helped organize a demonstration in Istanbul to protest the actions he imposed on businessmen during the pandemic Unfair rules.

He said in an interview: “A lot of friends have closed.” “There are still some people on the verge of suicide.”

Turks have been struggling to cope with currency devaluation and double-digit inflation in the two years following the outbreak of the pandemic in March, which severely exacerbated the country’s severe recession. Nine months later, as the second wave of the virus swept across Turkey, there were signs that a large part of the population was flooded with debt and became increasingly hungry.

MetroPoll Research, a well-respected polling organization, found in a recent survey that 25% of respondents said they could not meet basic needs. Mr. Abbas said that he saw it in customers every day.

He said: “People are in a moment of explosion.”

For President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Recep Tayyip Erdogan), who has attracted attention at home and abroad due to active foreign policy and military intervention this year, things suddenly peaked in November.

The government admitted that it did not record asymptomatic cases, thereby underestimating the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in Turkey. New data indicate that the country’s infection levels have reached a record high.

The Turkish lira has been hit by a record depreciation-the exchange rate has fallen by more than 30% against the dollar this year-and foreign exchange reserves have been severely depleted. Moody’s Investor Service recently stated that with the double-digit inflation rate, the country is now also facing a balance of payments crisis.

At the time of the crisis, when President Trump steps down next month, Mr. Erdogan will lose a strong ally. Turkey has already been sanctioned by the United States for its purchase of Russia’s missile defense system, and it has been sanctioned by the European Union for the natural gas drilling that Cyprus claims to own waters. Mr. Trump has been preventing Washington from imposing sanctions until this month.

Mr. Erdogan congratulated the president-elect Biden on his victory particularly slowly. Analysts expect that the Biden administration will be tougher on Erdogan’s declining record of human rights and democratic standards.

In response to Turkey’s growing economy, Mr. Erdogan has recently taken a ruthless move, which is usually hard to detect. He appointed a new head of the central bank. When Erdogan’s finance minister, also his son and heir, raised his opposition to resignation, the president accepted the resignation and succeeded him, which surprised many people.

Then, the president promised to carry out economic and judicial reforms, and even raised the possibility of releasing political prisoners-some in his party advocated improving relations between political prisoners and Europe and the United States.

In mid-December, Mr. Erdogan announced a new aid package to spend three months of small businesses and traders. Last weekend, he went shopping in a bakery to show his support for the merchant.

But critics say Mr. Erdogan’s various actions are too few and too late.

Former Treasury Secretary Berat Albayrak may be a convenient scapegoat-the real collapse of the presidential palace is little known-but his fall from grace and the complete disappearance of public life indicate that the route is more serious correct. It seems that economic austerity and the consequences for Mr. Erdogan’s own destiny have become the most concerned issues.

Mehmet Ali Kulat conducts polls on political parties, including polls on Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party.

Kurat said: “He is particularly concerned about how things reflect society.”

According to MetroPoll’s survey, recent opinion polls show that Erdogan’s AK party status has dropped to its lowest point in 19 years at the helm of Turkish politics, hovering around 30%. The figure shows that the party’s alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party will not be able to ensure that Erdogan wins the 50% of the votes required for the presidential election.

Asli Edintasbass, a senior fellow at the European Commission on Foreign Relations, said: “The next election is not a slam dunk.” “Unless he expands the alliance or manages to attract people who vote for the opposition, he is likely to fail. “

“His chance of being re-elected is less than 50%,” she said. She added: “Finally, the question is, is he smart enough?”

The MetroPoll survey found that most of Mr. Erdogan’s own supporters and 63% of the overall respondents believe that Turkey’s development direction is worse, not better.

These figures are confirmed by what aid organizations have seen on the ground.

Hacer Foggo, founder of the “Deep Poverty Network”, an organization that helps poor street merchants and informal workers, said that she has never encountered such a problem during nearly 20 years of working to alleviate urban poverty in Turkey.

When the first lockdown in March began, she began to receive calls from people begging to help her family. Street vendors and scrap collectors have been hit particularly hard.

She said: “When they say there is no food at home, it means that the neighbor’s house also has no food.”

Her network has helped 2,500 families in Istanbul, matching donors with families and helping them buy food and diapers for children. When she described a mother that her child’s diaper size had become smaller, her voice began to hoarse.

Ms. Fogg said: “Baby should be gaining weight, not getting smaller.” She said that other women can no longer breastfeed due to lack of food, and more people are forced to look for food that is already scarce in the garbage.

She said: “I am 52 years old and this is the biggest crisis I have ever seen.”

She said that the economic problems began before the pandemic, but she blamed the lack of local and national governments to deal with growing poverty and inability to improve social services.

Indeed, after Mr. Erdogan strengthened his control over the country (including the entire economy) through the new power swept by the new presidential system he took office in 2018, economic turmoil has emerged. International monitors see these changes as the main reason for alerting their alarms. The country’s economy plummeted.

Moody’s stated in a report this month: “Turkey’s weak and deteriorating governance is a major credit weakness, which supports us in lowering Turkey’s ratings by several times since we introduced the presidential system in mid-2018. Level decision.”

Abbas, a businessman who runs a tobacco shop, described last week two regular customers who entered his shop in an affluent area in the capital Ankara. This is an example of how inflation has seriously affected people.

A woman asked if she could buy an egg. The neat second woman asked him if he had free bread. Shocked, he installed a schoolbag for her.

He said: “The situation of retirees is very bad.” “What I hear from people is’enough. We can’t stand it, we can’t make money,” and 70 and 80 year olds said they were going to throw themselves away. on the street. “

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