Turkish opposition chorus grows in response to plunging lira

The leaders of Turkey’s opposition parties on Tuesday called for action against the plunging lira after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan doubled own on his vow to keep interest rates at below inflation, sending the currency to historic lows.

Former Erdoğan ally and current leader of the opposition Future Party Ahmet Davutoğlu urged political party leaders and Turkish citizens to begin “the real economic war of independence,” in reference to Erdoğan’s remarks the day before.

In an address to the nation following a cabinet meeting on Monday, the Turkish president said a “game was being played” over the lira and vowed the country would “emerge victorious from this war of economic independence.’’

Erdoğan’s remarks prompted the lira to crash by 8 percent on Monday before plunged as much as 15 per cent on Tuesday, surpassing Turkey’s currency crisis of 2018. The currency has lost nearly 40 percent of its value against the dollar this year.

“This is no longer ignorance, but betrayal,’’ the former prime minister said on Twitter, as he called on the people of Turkey and political parties to take action.

Davutoğlu also announced that he would shortly be meeting with the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğu.

Kılıçdaroğlu was joined by top party officials during the meeting that took place at the CHP headquarters in Ankara, T24 news site reported.

In a press conference following the meeting, Kılıçdaroğlu called for snap elections as he urged Erdoğan’s junior coalition partner and leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, to “open the door’’ for such a move ahead of the polls scheduled for 2023, should he have ‘’an ounce of love’’ for Turkey in his heart.  

Erdoğan and Bahçeli strongly dismiss calls for snap elections amid sliding approval rates for their parties and ruling alliance.

Davutoğlu also called for immediate elections during the press conference as he highlighted what he called Erdoğan’s faulty economic policies.

The Future Party leader blasted Erdoğan for pointing to outside influences over the ailing lira, saying that every statement from Ankara had a “rocket-like effect’’ on the currency.

“The value of the Turkish lira is our honour… There is an income disparity between people living with dollars on the one hand and those living with the Turkish lira on the other,’’ Davutoğlu said.

Another opposition leader and former Erdoğan ally Ali Babacan also condemned the government over the lira crash.

“As our population becomes poorer, our government is saying ‘comply with this to keep our country going,’’ T24 news site cited the leader of the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) as saying at his party’s headquarters in Ankara. “How can a country whose population is becoming impoverished continue to stand?’’

The former deputy prime minister is widely credited with steering Turkey’s economy through years of rapid growth. 

Meanwhile, residents of Ankara’s Esat neighbourhood took to the streets late Tuesday, urging the government to resign.

Footage share on Twitter showed crowds chanting ‘’AKP resign’’ with some people banging pots and pans.

Similar protests broke out in Istanbul as people marched in Istanbul’s Kadıköy and Sisli districts, calling for the government of Erdoğan to step down.

 

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