Turkey’s main opposition leader and presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the high price of onions, promising to increase the purchasing power of citizens if he is elected president in the May elections.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader released a video on Twitter late on Sunday in which he accused Erdoğan of deceiving citizens with “various strange artificial agendas” ahead of elections slated for May 14.
— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) April 9, 2023
“This is the main agenda of the citizens,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in the video, holding an onion in his hand, and referring to the fact that the price per kilogram has increased to TL 30 ($1.50) and the unit price to 7 lira ($0.36).
Kılıçdaroğlu added that if he came to power, democracy would be established in Turkey, money and investments would flow into the country, the value of the Turkish lira would surge and the citizens’ purchasing power would increase.
The CHP leader further stated that if Erdoğan stayed in power, the price per kilogram of onions would climb to as high as 100 lira ($5) since the president and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government “feel no shame” about steep hikes in food prices.
“They are well aware that they are no longer credible. That’s why they have started a terrible campaign of slander, lies and deception,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to a controversial prayer rug incident among other things.
A photo showing Kılıçdaroğlu stepping on a prayer rug with his shoes on recently triggered a debate in Turkey, with pro-government media outlets and ruling AKP figures targeting him for allegedly insulting religious values.
The photo, taken during an iftar gathering on March 31 as Muslims observe the holy month of Ramadan, went viral on social media.
While the CHP leader apologized for the incident, stating he had not noticed the prayer rug on the floor due to the crowd, Erdoğan took advantage of the situation, getting his rival booed by a crowd at an election rally in İstanbul earlier in April.
“May God damn those who hide behind our religion and engage in all kinds of deceitful acts. I will continue my path with honest and sincere people, whether they are religious or non-religious, Turkish or Kurdish, Sunni or Alevi. This is my only criterion,” Kılıçdaroğlu underlined.
Turkey’s economy has been in turmoil since Erdoğan launched an unusual experiment in September 2021 to fight inflation by lowering borrowing costs, while conventional economic theory embraced by almost every other big nation pursues the exact opposite approach.
Annual inflation dropped to 50.51 percent in March, easing ahead of the May 14 presidential and parliamentary elections, according to official figures.
It had been stoked by a currency crisis at the end of 2021 and reached a 24-year peak of 85.51 percent in October. It fell sharply in December and eased to only 55.2 percent in February despite a favorable base effect.
However, the official rate of inflation is disputed by independent economists from the ENAG research group, which estimates that consumer prices in March stood at 112.51 percent, slightly lower than the 126.91 percent they reported in February.