Erdogan’s Communications Directorate lets the money flow ahead of elections
Less than two months before Turkey's crucial parliamentary and presidential elections, the communications department of the Turkish presidential office has come under renewed criticism for "spiraling its spending "to steer public opinion in favor of the government," Birgun newspaper reported.
The Directorate, which spent 50.2 million TL in February 2022, almost quadrupled this amount in the same period of 2023 and spent 188.8 million TL in February 2023, after Turkey entered an election atmosphere, Birgun said.
The directorate, which has been at the center of debates over the government's crackdown on opposition voices, has been criticized for its social media campaigns, which have often featured threats, insults, and slurs against the opposition.
The directorate's spending in the first two months of 2023, as Turkey gears up for the presidential and general elections on May 14, has raised eyebrows. Its total expenditure in the first two months of 2023 amounted to 233.1 million TL, surpassing 10 other government bodies in terms of spending in the first two months, including the Climate Change Presidency, the EU Presidency, and the State Archives Presidency.
The Directorate's "Representation and Promotion" budget item is also noteworthy. In 2021, it spent 6.6 million TL on this item, while in the first half of 2022, it spent 144.7 million TL. The Directorate is expected to receive a representation and promotion allocation of 327 million TL in 2023.
Established on July 24, 2018, with a Presidential Decree and equipped with broad powers, the Presidency of Communication was criticized for "managing public opinion in favor of the government" after almost every activity it carried out. In 2019, the Presidency of Communication received a budget of 344 million 531 million TL. The allocation of 1.6 billion TL for the Presidency of Communication for 2023 also sparked controversy.
Speaking to BirGun, CHP Group Deputy Chair Ozgur Ozel said, "This one-man regime has turned the Presidency of Communication, which serves as the Propaganda Ministry, into a media mogul with dozens of newspapers and dozens of television stations that it directly intervenes in and manages it manages."