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Erdoğan again disappoints retirees with low pension increase

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again let down retirees and attracted widespread criticism for a pension increase that fell significantly below expectations, resulting in the lowest pension being less than 59 percent of the monthly minimum wage.

The president announced a 42.6 percent increase in pensions, which includes an additional 5 percent raise decided by him, following a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Erdoğan announced that the lowest pension, previously TL 7,500 ($248), has been increased to TL 10,000 ($331). The lowest pension now corresponds to 58.8 percent of the minimum wage, which was raised to TL 17,002 ($564) for 2024.

Opposition politicians and retirees, a significant voter base for Erdoğan, expressed their dissatisfaction and anger with the pension increase that fell well far below their expectations.

Özgür Özel, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said on X that the increase announced by Erdoğan is “insufficient,” arguing that the lowest pension should be equal to the minimum wage.

Reminding that Erdogan declared 2024 as the “Year of Retirees,” Ali Babacan, leader of the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), said this year is for retirees who “think twice about giving allowances to their grandchildren and are struggling to pay their rent.”

Fatih Erbakan, leader of the New Welfare Party (YRP), said the 5 percent additional increase was a significant disappointment for millions of retirees in Turkey attempting to make ends meet with incomes well below the hunger line, which exceeds TL 15,000 ($497).

The hunger line refers to the amount a family of four has to spend on basic food expenses.

Zeynel Abidin Ergen, chairman of the All Pensioners’ Union, described the lowest pension equaling 58.8 percent of the minimum wage as a “scandal,” noting that as all retirees, they won’t accept the situation and will exercise their democratic right to fight it.

“Our demand is very clear; the lowest pension should be aligned with the entry-level salary of a new civil servant,” he added.

According to data announced earlier in January, the lowest civil servant salary has been increased from TL 22,017 ($730) to TL 32,861 (1,090).

The Turkish president is held responsible for the country’s worst economic crisis of his time in power, with the official annual inflation rate peaking at 85 percent in October and climbing back up above 64 percent last month.

The Turkish lira has lost 93 percent of its value versus the dollar over the past decade – and 37 percent since last year.

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