Erdogan is spending for victory ahead of tough elections
A few months before crucial elections that could reshape Turkey's domestic and foreign policies, the government is spending billions of dollars in state money to support President Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling party at the ballot box, while issuing a series of legal threats to weaken those who seek to unseat him, New York Times said on Thursday.
In an article by Istanbul bureau chief Ben Hubbard, NY Times said Erdogan’s government has introduced vast spending for initiatives to insulate voters at least until the election from the economy’s troubles, shaped largely largely because of Erdogan’s unorthodox financial policies
Since late December, Erdogan has increased the national minimum wage by 55 percent; bolstered the salaries of civil servants by 30 percent; expanded a program to give subsidized loans to tradesmen and small businesses; and moved to abolish a minimum retirement age requirement, allowing more than 1.5 million Turks to immediately stop working and to collect their pensions.
GOVERNMENT SPENDING SPREE
The recent government spending spree adds to other initiatives introduced last year: a cash support program for low-income families; government forgiveness of some debt; and state-funded accounts to protect local currency deposits from devaluation.
But many economists say this public spending will most likely fuel even higher inflation and could tip the country into recession sometime after the elections.
A former central bank official and finance expert Ugur Gurses told the NY Times that Erdogan thinks it is worth it if he is going to win.
OPPOSITION’S LEGAL TROUBLES
While the cost-of-living crisis which particularly hit the middle classes still improve the opposition’s chances, legal troubles are a major concern for the candidates who will run against Tayyip Erdogan, especially Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu.
Last month, a court barred Imamoglu from politics for two years and seven months on charges that he insulted state officials. Mr. Imamoglu remains in office while appealing the conviction. But in the weeks since last month’s court ruling, he has faced three new legal threats that could temporarily knock him out of politics and remove him from office, passing control of Turkey’s largest city to Mr. Erdogan.
Hasan Sinar, an assistant professor of criminal law at Altinbas University in Istanbul, dismissed the legal threats as “purely political,” in an interview with the New York Times.
IT IS ALL ABOUT IMAMOGLU
“It’s all about Imamoglu because he’s the rising star of the opposition and they want to stop him,” said Mr. Sinar, adding that he doubted that a judge would rule against such a high-profile figure without knowing that Mr. Erdogan would approve.
“This is a political act that looks like a legal one,” he said, “and no one can do this if it is against the will of the president.”
According to Ahmet Kasim Han, a professor of international relations at Beykoz University in Istanbul, Erdogan wants to dominate the playground up until the elections
“Erdogan is trying to fight this battle on ground he chooses, under the framework that he determines, with the weapons that he picks, and preferably with the opponent that he prefers,”he said.