<SUNBIGHT > – 21 December, 2021.
THE Turkish Lira crashed to a record low due to Erodgan’s proclamation. In the last 30 days, the Lira has lost 35 per cent of its value against the dollar. Overall, the currency has fallen by 50 per cent this year.
Turkish citizens have been burning the Lira on the streets amid a surge in inflation. Last month, the inflation rate crossed more than 21 per cent. People have no choice but to line up for subsidised bread. They are also cutting down on meat, some have even fled the country for a better life in Europe.
The Turkish president has fired nearly every economic official who challenged him. He has sacked three central bank chiefs in two years and forced the country to accept interest rate cuts.
Despite high inflation, Erdogan has stuck to his interest rate policy. He has forced the country’s central bank to keep interest rates low which means the Turkish banks can give out loans at cheaper rates. Now, there is excess money in the economy and inflation is breaking records.
Ideally, the central bank should have increased the interest rates which would encourage savings and discourage borrowing and bring inflation under control.
However, Turkey’s central bank is helpless since it remains under Erdogan’s control. The president is now justifying his decision by invoking religion.
Erdogan says Islam won’t allow him to cut interest rates. “We’re lowering interest rates. Don’t expect anything else from me. As a Muslim, whatever (Islamic teaching) requires I will continue to do that,” he said.
Amid the economic downturn, the Turkish voters are gearing up to get rid of Erdogan in 2023 with the president’s approval ratings fallen to record lows.
According to a survey, just 39 per cent of the Turkish voters want him to continue. Erdogan’s AKP has support from just 26 per cent of the voters.
The national alliance which is a collective of major opposition leaders seems to have got ahead with almost 40 per cent of the voters backing them.
Islam is the go-to defence mechanism for Erdogan. The president brings up religion every time he senses trouble. When the West attacked him, Erdogan declared himself as a leader of the Islamic world and got support from Malaysia and Pakistan.
After he began losing support at home, Erdogan turned the iconic Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque and then the president turned more churches and museums into mosques.
Erdogan fought back criticism with Islam. However, the economy has proved to be his Achilles heel. He is now using religion to defend his policies, however, considering the anger of the Turkish people his strategy is not working.■