Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the presidential candidate for the opposition and leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), has called on the Turkish public to support him in the upcoming presidential runoff in order to prevent further deterioration of the economy and stop the depreciation of the Turkish lira, local media reported on Tuesday.
Turkey held parliamentary and presidential elections on May 14. Although most public surveys showed Kılıçdaroğlu running neck-and-neck with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or defeating him in the first round, Kılıçdaroğlu finished the race lagging behind Erdoğan.
According to preliminary unofficial results, while Kılıçdaroğlu received 44.8 percent of the nationwide vote, the support for Erdoğan stood at 49.5 percent, which requires a runoff since neither of the candidates was able to exceed the 50 percent threshold.
The CHP leader on Tuesday asked the electorate in a video he posted on Twitter to cast their votes to support him, whether they like him or not, for the improvement of the economy in Turkey and to combat the depreciation of the Turkish lira.
“If [Erdoğan] comes [to power again], the [value of the US] dollar will rise to 30 lira. Remember, you will cast your vote not for me but for yourself. Let those who love their country come to the ballot box [to vote],” Kılıçdaroğlu said in the video.
Bu bir referandumdur. Ekonomik yıkımı yaşayan güzel ülkemizi son çıkışta kurtaracak mıyız, yoksa uçurumdan aşağı yuvarlanacak mıyız?
Vatanını seven sandığa gelsin! pic.twitter.com/fiZUfy5eVp
— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) May 23, 2023
Referring to the runoff as a referendum, the CHP leader wrote in the tweet: “Will we save our beautiful country, which is experiencing economic devastation … or will we fall off the cliff?
The runoff is seen by many as a referendum on President Erdoğan’s polarizing two-decade rule.
Turkey’s lira weakened to a record low of 19.80 against the dollar last week, after incumbent Erdoğan’s lead in the presidential election surprised markets that were betting on an end to his time in office and the unorthodox economic policies that have come to characterize it.
Turkey’s poor have been hit the hardest by an economic crisis that saw the official annual rate of inflation reach 85 percent last year.
Turkey’s latest economic crisis started when Erdoğan — a lifelong opponent of high interest rates — pressured the central bank to bring down chronically high consumer prices by lowering borrowing costs.
Conventional economic theory urges policymakers to fight inflation by curbing demand and raising the price of doing business through higher interest rates.
Erdoğan’s approach set off a currency crisis that saw the lira lose nearly half its value in a matter of weeks in late 2021. The currency also lost 30 percent in 2022.