Mahfi Egilmez:  Blood, toil, tears and sweat

Mahfi Egilmez is a former Undersecretary of Treasury and the author of best-selling economy and fiction books. This is a translation from his popular blog.


Parliamentary elections are concluded, AKP and the Republic Alliance achieved a significant success. In the presidential election, although Erdogan was very close to winning in the first round, the final showdown was left to the second round. Predicting what will happen in the second round is the job of  pollsters and political scientists, it’s not something I know from where I sit, but it won’t be a surprise if Erdogan wins.

The first of the two big surprises of the first round was the vote rate Erdogan received, and the second was the great support that came to Erdogan from the earthquake zone.

I have repeatedly written, based on official data, that the economy is a big wreck, and that this is due to wrong economic policies. Most of us talked and discussed the economic situation in our media interviews. Especially inflation was extremely bad and this should affect election results. Economics is not everything, of course, but we know that the economy often has a significant impact on elections.

On the other hand, the results were not like that at all, the economic situation was not effective enough on the results. It is necessary to analyze the reasons for this correctly. In this article, I will try to do so.

First of all, people do not understand the state of the economy very well. A large segment of the population  live on state aid and do not know what to do if aid is cut off. This is called the ‘charity economy’ (also called clientelism). Many  recipients think that the aid is not provided by the state, but by the ruling party or even the President.


Even though these are the ones whose economic situation is the worst, they do not want to lose what little welfare they get,  thinking that dole-outs can only be sustained with the incumbent government.

There is a next tier of citizenry, just above those who rely on  charity economy, who think that the deterioration in the economy can be survived, as long as they do not lose their jobs despite the high cost of living. This is a very common thought among low-income white-collar as well as blue-collar workers. To sum up, a significant majority of the society is either not aware of the deterioration in the economy enough and perceives it as a temporary situation, or they are aware of the situation, but they ignore it because they still  have job  and then their income increased for the time being thanks to lavish election spending by Erdogan.

In such a situation, what the opposition should do is to reveal the tenuous circumstances  bare with facts and  data, to show that the economy, which seems to be standing today, can actually collapse to the ground at the first hard blow. In other words, it needs to impress upon  the poor the reality,  explaining that there will be trouble for at least two years if Erdogan gets reelected. When Winston Churchill took office as prime minister on May 13, 1940, he repeated what he had said before while serving in the government: “I have nothing to promise you but blood, toil, tears and sweat.

People think the economy isn’t all that bad when they see opposition that promises them just as much or even more than the government. I don’t know how to do politics, but if you don’t speak the truth, there is no point in criticizing those who spread lies.

“You can’t beat the liar with more lies” (Proverb.)

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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.