In democratic countries, political governments almost always lose power in economic crises. This experience lies at the basis of the famous quip that “there is no government that cannot be overthrown by an empty pot” in Turkey. An unprecedented number of pots remained empty thanks to Erdogan’s insane policies, but AK Party won the election. Why and can the opposition end the 21 yearlong of defeat series in 2024 local elections?
In thew year going to elections, growth fell and inflation increased. Foreign debt default risk increased. The current account deficit increased and income distribution deteriorated. The TL crisis turned into an economic crisis.
In 2003, GDP per capita in Argentina was below ours. Despite its many crises, Argentina surpassed us. Again in 2003; Income per capita was close to equal in Chile and Turkey. Now, Chile’s GDP per capita is 5 thousand dollars higher than ours.
There are two main reasons that explain the AKP miracle:
- Populism trap.
- Failure of the opposition.
It is a requirement of the social state that it provides support to the disabled from the budget, rents cheap housing to those who do not have a home, and supports the poor. But in Turkey, all aid is based on voting concerns. The money distributed from the budget is more than the investment appropriations. In every election, interest-free or cheap loans are given to SMEs and tradesmen. Public banks are used for subsidizing consumption spending, a form of pork barreling unique to Turkey. In every election, public facilities and state resources are used to the fullest for the incumbent.
People prefer their short-term interests to long-term political stability. Unbridled political power to distribute state rent wins elections.
Weakness of the Opposition;
In the presidential polls, there were only Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş until end-2022. Both were clearly ahead of Erdogan. Later, Kılıçdaroğlu became a candidate, changing poll results and Erdoğan took the lead. The opposition failed to see the truth of the fragility of support for Kilicdaroglu and lost.
CHP said democracy is its first priority, but it neither held primary elections nor conducted straw polls like the ruling party did. The basis on which the candidates appointed by the headquarters still continues to create trust issues between the electorate and the leadership.
Kılıçdaroğlu said the rule of law was his Bible and then expelled those who criticized him from the party.
Kılıçdaroğlu made wrong decisions on issues that are sensitive to the public. For example, he brought those accepting the so-called Armenian genocide and those who apologized to the Armenians to high levels in the party, hurting nationalist feeling. Or he made those who criticized Ataturk close advisors.
What happens next?
The average family aid of 850 to 1250 lira distributed by the government and the 4000 lira aid distributed to women will not mean anything in the face of hyperinflation. People will come to their senses and support the parties they believe will give them jobs instead of money.
There is no end to demand for state resources. Those who do the dividing will inevitably fall onto each other.
If CHP’s chairman and his team, which has lost 13 elections in the last thirteen years, do not change, party members will not go to the polls. CHP will be marginalized. If the leadership changes, the party will be a viable candidate for holding power.
Prof Esfender Korkmaz: is one of the most senior active development economists in Turkey, who had also served as a Congressman from CHP. He has 12 books on economy, political economy and development theory to his name. He currently writes columns for center-right Yenicag Gazetesi
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