Turkish Opposition Vows Economic Reform in Upcoming Election

April 20, 2015Turkeyby EW News Desk Team

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Republican People's Party (CHP) opposition member Kemal Kilicdaroglu pledges to boost income for working people, reform welfare and create an atmosphere of economic growth as the economy spirals downward. Kilicdaroglu also promises democratic reform and an information-based society.

Turkey's primary opposition blames President Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party (AKP) for creating mass poverty and economic stagnation. According to estimates, millions have people fell into poverty during AKP's 13-year reign. Economic expansion dropped 2.9 percent in 2014, compared to 4.2 percent from the year before. Further, the Turkish lira plunged 12 percent compared to the dollar in 2015. Erdogan stated that Turkey's economic plight is temporary, while Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci noted that the lira would stabilize. Zeybecki also expects first-quarter annual growth of 1.5 percent and an annual growth of over 2.9 percent for the full year.

Turkey's Democracy Troubles

Even though the incumbent party is set to maintain parliamentary seats when the election takes place on June 7, analysts doubt if the party can garner enough support to amend the constitution and solidify Erdogan's presidency, making investors uneasy. Changing the constitution ties into strengthening the office of the presidency. Experts expect the AKP's share of the election to fall 50 percent, weakening the Erdogan Administration's ability to take a more active role in the economy. With that, AKP will still hold a support range of 42 to 48 percent, with CHP gaining 23 to 28 percent.

Supporters argue that the changes would hasten the decision-making process, but critics such as Kilicdaroglu point out that the move is a power grab that curtails the democratic process. Kilicdaroglu stresses empowering parliament system instead of the executive branch and maintaining a separation of powers.

Turkey's Decades-long Problem

Erdogan founded AKP in 2001 and stepped down after entering office. However, Turkey's troubles started in the 1980s. The country shifted from an import-based model to an external economy driven by the private sector borrowing more money from abroad and allowing foreign investors to save money in Turkey in the process. Switching to a liberalized economy caused internal and external debt to balloon, but the government gained tighter control over the economy after 2001, reigning in public debt. However, external private debt skyrocketed between 2002 and 2014, and private sector debt may reach the point where the government may need to pay a portion of that debt if companies cannot pay back the loans. AKP members say they need more powers for further intervention, but opposition party members can add a new dynamic to the country and economy should they gain a wider presence in parliament.