Kilicdaroglu leads, Erdogan follows
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, President Erdogan announced that students would only pay their principal debts without interest or inflation adjustments. He claimed that the decision would solve the credit problem of 3,157,000 students who took loans from the Credit and Hostels Institution (KYK).
GSB kredi geri ödemelerinin herhangi bir enflasyon farkı olmaksızın sadece alınan kredi rakamı üzerinden yapılmasını kararlaştırdık.— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) July 18, 2022
Böylece toplam 3 milyon 157 bin gencimizin öğrenim kredisi sorununu kökten çözmüş oluyoruz. Gençlerimize hayırlı olsun. pic.twitter.com/CSou1gXajt
But Erdogan did not decide to absolve more than 26 billion Turkish liras worth of interest and inflation adjustment out of thin air. It was the head of the main opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, that drove the Turkish president to do that.
On July 10, in response to a college graduate who complained about her loan repayment plan, Kilicdaroglu tweeted “I call on the youth: do not pay your KYK debs with interest! We will be leading the country in a year; As I promised, we will only require you to pay the principal, and that is after you find a job.”
Gençlere sesleniyorum: Faizli KYK borçlarını ödemeyin! Bir sene içinde iktidara geliyoruz; sözünü verdiğim gibi, sizden sadece ana para talep edilecek, o da iş bulduğunuzda. https://t.co/Dzlklm5uCy— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) July 10, 2022
Erdogan took up the challenge in less than a week. “We will not let interest and inflation victimize our youth. We know the best about the problems of our people Mr. Kemal,” he said. And staying true to his word, the Turkish President announced the erasure of all interest and inflation adjustments from student loans 8 days after Kilicdaroglu tweeted about it.
Following Erdogan’s announcement, tweets thanking Kilicdaroglu flooded the social media platform. And the main opposition leader tweeted “EYT…” with the image of a loading bar.
EYT refers to “Emeklilikte Yaşa Takılanlar” (Those who could not retire due to age), a group that claims they were not granted early retirement despite having paid the required premiums in light of a resolution that was passed by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 1999. The government repeatedly refused their requests, with Erdogan personally saying that the move would “spell the collapse of the country’s economy.”
It remains to be seen whether the embattled president will change his stance on the early retirement debate following the call of his de facto rival in the upcoming elections.