Snap election only way out of Turkey’s financial woes, jailed Kurdish leader says

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Imprisoned Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş has said that the only way out of Turkey’s financial troubles is holding a snap election that would end the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), local media reported on Friday, citing a series of tweets shared from his account.

“Turkey isn’t a poor country. It’s just being poorly managed. Fortunately, it’s up to you to fix the situation. The most urgent thing you can do is call for an election and teach those who sold the country a lesson at the ballot box. You’ll be amazed how quickly things improve,” Demirtaş said, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP.

Demirtaş, the former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was commenting after Turkey’s central bank on Thursday cut its policy rate by 100 basis points to 15 percent, in line with a call a day earlier by Erdoğan, who is widely criticized for subscribing to the unorthodox belief that high interest rates cause high inflation instead of slowing it down, and despite the plunge of the Turkish lira.

“The government deliberately lowers the value of the lira so foreigners can have the under-ground and above-ground riches of the country and the great efforts of the workers and farmers for free. Their aim is to get some foreign currency into the country. This is called selling the homeland, and it’s the Turkish nationalists who are doing this,” Demirtaş added.

“What could Turkish society have done to deserve this, other than mostly voting for the wrong person in the last elections? Unfortunately, the situation of the people is awful, and poverty is turning into misery by the day,” the Kurdish leader said, emphasizing that holding a snap election was the only way out of the country’s financial problems.

Demirtaş’s tweets came after opposition leaders Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Meral Akşener earlier this week jointly called on Erdoğan to hold a snap election, accusing his AKP government of poor management of the economy. The move to cut rates on Thursday, which reflects Erdoğan’s heavy hand on the bank, also prompted the leaders to reiterate their call for early elections.

Demirtaş, who was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016, on terrorism-related charges, has been behind bars since then despite two European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings in 2018 and 2020 that said he was imprisoned for “political” reasons and not for “legal” reasons, ordering his “immediate release.” The Council of Europe also called on Turkey to immediately release the Kurdish politician on Sept. 17, 2021.

Although the ECtHR rulings are legally binding, there have been many instances in which Turkey has not implemented them. Erdoğan has dismissed both rulings on Demirtaş, accusing the court of applying a double standard and of hypocrisy.

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