Turkey's ruling alliance downvotes opposition's poverty probe proposal

Turkey’s ruling alliance on Thursday voted against a proposal by the main opposition party for a parliamentary investigation into poverty in the country, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

The vote by the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and junior coalition partner, far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), arrives as Turkish citizens are reeling from the effects of soaring inflation, which has hit a new two-decade high of 54 percent.

Erdoğan’s AKP effectively denies that there is a poverty problem in the country, Cumhuriyet newspaper cited main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Tekin Bingöl as saying in parliament in response to the move.

“Because the AKP has turned poverty into party policy, in other words, the AKP feeds off of poverty,” according to the CHP lawmaker.

The CHP has for years been saying that Turkey’s problem goes beyond high levels of poverty, reaching great levels of hunger, Bingöl said, adding that there was a “fortunate minority” in the country who were reaping the benefits of contracts and bureaucrats receiving unjust funding from the AKP.

Turkey’s currency lost more than 45 percent of its value in the past year as the Turkish president pushed on with his policy of avoiding rate rises despite sky-high inflation. The country’s foreign exchange reserves have been steadily dropping, and Turks earning salaries in lira are increasingly unable to afford basic goods as their prices soar. 

In the meantime, there have been steep hikes in electricity and natural gas tariffs, compounding trouble for consumers and businesses.

Before the lira went on a downward spiral in December, a May 2020 survey by leading pollster Metropoll revealed that some 26.6 percent of participants were unable to afford their basic needs, while another 53.6 percent said that they could “barely afford” them, Duvar news site reported.

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