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Opposition blames AKP gov’t for Turkish lira hitting record low of 10 to US dollar

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Opposition parties have slammed Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government as the lira, which has weakened by more than a quarter so far this year, dropped to an all-time low of 10 to the dollar on Friday.

The lira, the worst performer in emerging markets again this year, has shed two-thirds of its value in five years, eating into the incomes of Turks along with double-digit inflation.

Deputy group chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Engin Özkoç on Friday listed reasons for the Turkish lira dropping to a record low of 10 to the dollar, holding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP government, which have been ruling the country for 19 years, mainly responsible for it.

Speaking during a live program on TELE1, Özkoç on Friday listed a lack of judicial independence, an economy based not on production but on exports and the central bank’s damaged credibility as other reasons for the slump in the lira’s value.

“Businesspeople attach importance to the sense of justice. Neither Recep Tayyip Erdoğan nor his AKP government has credibility in Turkey or in the world anymore. If the courts in a country don’t function properly … that country has no sense of justice and investors no longer invest in that country,” Özkoç said.

Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader and former economy minister Ali Babacan also blamed the AKP for the depreciation of the lira in a video he released on social media on Friday.

Referring to Erdoğan’s 2012 remark that “money symbolizes the power, prestige and independence of a country, just like the flag and the national anthem. The prestige of money equals the prestige of the nation,” Babacan said, “Those in power squandered both the money and the prestige of this nation.”

“When we parted ways with the government, a dollar was 2 lira and 92 kuruş [1 percent of 1 Turkish lira]. … This government, just like a spendthrift, has spent all our wealth and devalued our country. This country doesn’t need spendthrifts,” he added.

Babacan resigned from the AKP, of which he was a founding member, in 2019, citing concerns and disagreements over its direction. After months of rumors circulating about his plans to establish a new party to challenge the AKP’s rule, he unveiled DEVA in March 2020.

“You were reelected on June 24, 2018 by promising that you would ‘raise up the country.’ At that time, a dollar was worth 4.7 lira, and now it’s 10. You made the Turkish lira lose 112 percent of its value [against the dollar]. You wasted our people’s purchasing power,” spokesperson of the nationalist İYİ (Good) Party Yavuz Ağıralioğlu said on Friday in a series of tweets, addressing the government.

Serkan Özcan, spokesperson of the Future Party (GP), another rival party established by a former AKP heavyweight, also underlined on Twitter that all the efforts that had been made to support the Turkish lira’s prestige in the early years of the AKP, through “fiscal discipline and monetary policies,” were wasted by the executive presidency.

Through a referendum in April 2017, Turkey switched from a parliamentary system of governance to an executive presidential system that granted Erdoğan and his AKP sweeping powers and removed checks and balances, thus leading to a further weakening of Turkish democracy.

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