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Turks see high cost of living as country’s primary concern: survey

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An overwhelming majority of Turks see the high cost of living as the country’s most pressing issue, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by ASAL research, local media reported on Friday.

The “Turkey Political Agenda January 2024” survey, which was conducted on 2,000 people across the country, revealed that 64.4 percent of respondents think the high cost of living is the country’s biggest problem, followed by unemployment (6.3 percent), education (4.2 percent), refugees (3.8 percent) and terrorism (3.3 percent).

In response to the question “Which political party would solve Turkey’s problems?” 28.5 percent of participants said the ruling Justice and Development Party, while 23 percent answered “none of them.”

Respondents who believe the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) would solve Turkey’s problems accounted for 19.2 percent, followed by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) at 5.6 percent, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), 4.2 percent, and the nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party with 3.9 percent.

Data released by the Public Service Employees Union (Birleşik KAMU-İŞ) showed last week that the hunger line, which refers to the amount a family of four has to spend on basic food expenses, was TL 17,442 ($572) in January, overtaking the minimum wage, which was raised by 49 percent in late December to a net TL 17,002, $578 at the time but currently valued at $558.

Turkey’s poor have been hit the hardest by an economic crisis that saw the official annual inflation rate reach a decades-long high of 85 percent in October of 2022. The rate then fell off before resuming a steady climb. It ticked up to 64.77 percent in December, from 61.98 percent in November.

Analysts blame President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — who has called high interest rates “the mother and father of all evil” — for setting off the inflation spiral by forcing the nominally independent central bank to start slashing borrowing costs in 2021.

He reversed course after winning a difficult re-election in May of last year, appointing well-respected economist Mehmet Şimşek as finance minister and former Wall Street executive Hafize Gaye Erkan as governor of the central bank.

The central bank has since then raised Turkey’s benchmark interest rate to 42.5 percent from 8.5 percent, breaking through Erdoğan’s past aversion to high borrowing costs.

Erdoğan has endorsed their new program, signaling a major economic policy reversal after more than two decades in power.

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