“Washington Post”: The decline of the lira is losing Erdogan part...

Analysts began to question whether Erdogan’s financial blunders might do what the years of consolidation of power had not done, costing him office. If the interest rate cut fails, he will continue to lose popularity and his presidential challengers win in the polls.

  • Erdogan singled out the political and economic decisions of the state, the weakest national currency

newspaper said “Washington Post” In Turkey, the lira is declining, and so is the sky. Prices in supermarkets change almost daily. Queues for subsidized bread are increasing. The Turks are unable to make ends meet with the rising costs of potatoes, flour and chicken. Critics globally blame one man: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The authoritarian Erdogan – who rose to power during US President George W. Bush’s first term – has declared war on traditional financial assets and fueled the currency crisis by cutting interest rates when economists were saying he should do just the opposite: Any raising of interest to defend the lira.

But Erdogan, who claims to have studied economics, says he knows best. He asked Turks to be patient, insisting that a weak currency and lower interest rates would boost Turkish exports, create jobs, spur growth and stamp out inflation. What economists say he neglects to mention is that such a policy, especially in the midst of a crisis, will also drive up basic import prices, scare off foreign investors, drain Turkish banks and impoverish the population by driving rather than taming inflation. A new rate cut – the fourth in four months – sent the lira down to a record low.

Critics say Erdogan, having built up his influence over the years as he purged the government of those who were discussing and opposing him, is now surrounded by supportive men. He has fired free thinkers at Turkey’s central bank, leaving experts worried that the president might have no one left to expose his flaws. And as the lira continues to fall – more than half its value has been lost against the dollar this year – middle- and poorer Turks are paying the highest price, as the cost of basic goods doubles and fuel costs rise by 40 percent.

“I think the end of the world is coming,” a street vendor in Ankara told the New York Times.

Analysts began to question whether Erdogan’s financial blunders might do what years of consolidation of power and repressive tactics have not: cost him his position.

“He does seem to think he is right, when the world thinks the opposite is true,” said Sinan Ulgen, a Turkey expert at the Carnegie Europe Center. “If this policy fails, he will continue to lose popularity. Indeed, other presidential competitors are winning in the polls. “.

But the bets on Erdogan often fail, the newspaper added. Over the past two decades, he has repeatedly managed to turn adversity into victory, weathering geopolitical crises, an obscure coup attempt and a Turkish spring, always emerging stronger while maintaining the support of Islamist conservatives at the core of the AKP. Unless early elections are held, as demanded by the opposition, a possibility Erdogan has rejected, the next presidential election will not take place until 2023.

However, economic crises can be a betrayal of politicians. Just ask the Argentines, who went through five presidents in a span of two weeks amid a devastating currency crash and debt crisis in late 2001. Turkey isn’t Argentina yet, and for a number of reasons, including its manageable foreign debt, it will likely avoid an Argentina-style meltdown. . Yet authoritarian leaders like Erdogan have repeatedly fallen into economic chaos. In 2019, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was ousted in a military coup following protests that began in response to rising food and fuel prices. Some experts point to the rise in food prices as one of the factors of the “Arab Spring”.

Although he is now seen as a despot, Erdogan did not start out that way. He said in 2003: “I do not subscribe to the view that Islamic culture and democracy cannot be reconciled.” Erdogan’s early years in office saw him taming a vibrant military establishment, including dozens of retired officers and soldiers. His pro-investment policies initially led to an economic recovery that reduced poverty rates and brought shiny new infrastructure to Turkish cities.

Some chronicle the point of no return for him as an autocrat began in 2013, when he endorsed a violent response to the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul that began as opposition to urban development but turned into a broader public protest against the decline in freedoms.

In 2018, Erdogan sought to switch from a parliamentary system to a presidential one, winning the position he now holds in which he has more freedom to bypass parliament. But even before that, as prime minister, Erdogan moved to silence dissent by controlling the press. He purged the army after the 2016 coup.

But since 2018, Turkey has been avoiding a painful economic calculus. The lira plummeted as Erdogan pursued economic growth at any cost, and saw low interest rates as the way to do so. The problems accelerated in March, when Erdogan, bent on cutting interest rates further, fired his third central bank chief in less than two years, replacing him with Sahab Kavcioglu.

“The main qualification that the new central bank governor brings to his office is his relationship with President Berat Bayrak’s son-in-law, whose tenure as finance and treasury minister has been disastrous,” Stephen Cook wrote in Foreign Policy.

Erdogan defended his position, citing the Islamic prohibition of high interest, while pointing to China as an example of how low interest rates and a weaker currency can create a thriving middle class. But that took some time – something Turkey may lack given the sharp fall in the lira, which has also driven up manufacturing costs at home. Turkey imports parts for many of its final exports – such as cars – which are now more expensive to buy, given the weak lira.

Meanwhile, currency problems are deepening resentment and inciting anti-government protests. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that MAK, a pro-government political consultancy, said support for the AKP had fallen below 30 per cent in polls for the first time ever.

Transferring it to Arabic at the disposal of: Al-Mayadeen Net

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