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AKP lawmaker under fire for lavish meal in Monaco during economic downturn

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A lawmaker from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is facing criticism from members of her party as well as opposition politicians for sharing a photo of a lavish dinner she had in Monaco on social media amid the country’s economic problems.

MP Şebnem Bursalı shared a photo on Instagram of a lobster feast she had at a yacht club in Monaco over the weekend, drawing criticism that she is disconnected from the living conditions of people in Turkey, the majority of whom struggle to make ends meet amid an economic downturn.

According to a report by the Sol Haber news website on Saturday, Bursalı dined on lobster prepared by Chef Renato Secchi and his team at a restaurant where entry is allowed only by reservation and customers are required to be “elegant.” The menu price for the lobster was 60 euros (2,068 lira), which corresponds to 12 percent of the minimum wage in Turkey.

Mücahit Birinci, a member of the AKP’s Central Decision and Management Board (MKYK), expressed anger at Bursalı, saying her attitude does not align with the party’s spirit while calling on her to resign from the party.

“You can’t go and eat lobster in Monaco while our people are struggling to make ends meet. … Even if you did, you shouldn’t share it! If you shared it, then you should resign from this party. … Just get the hell out of our party, it’s that simple,” he said in a tweet.

 

Former AKP lawmaker and the party’s current MKYK member Orhan Miroğlu also criticized Bursalı for the post, in addition to Hüseyin Filiz, former AKP MP and the party’s mayoral candidate for Çankırı province in the March local elections, who shared photos on social media of his vacation in the Maldives.

Miroğlu found the posts about both vacations inappropriate “while there is so much poverty in Turkey and both MPs’ parties lost local power in the last election.”

In the March local elections, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) emerged as the leading party for the first time in 47 years, securing 37.7 percent of the vote, maintaining control of key cities and securing substantial gains in other regions, while the AKP, for the first time in 22 years, came in second, garnering only 35.4 percent of the vote.

“The issue is not about having the money to pay for your vacation, but rather, it’s about the inconsistency with being representatives of the people,” Miroğlu added.

 

Aydın Ünal, a former speechwriter for AKP leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also addressed the AKP’s recent election loss in his column in the pro-government Yeni Şafak daily.

“Erdoğan will be able to win back [the votes of] the devout if he acts mercilessly, dismantles gangs and factions … and reinstates sincerity and humility … for example, by confronting leaks such as [someone] sharing lobster photos from Monaco,” Ünal said.

Oğuz Kaan Salıcı, an MP from the CHP, described Bursalı’s eating lobster in Monaco as a “classist situation,” while stating that her posting a story on social media was an act of “rudeness” and “a summary of AKP arrogance.”

Salıcı referred to the high inflation in Turkey, asking Bursalı, “What was the bill? … Was it cheaper than in Turkey at least?”

 

Price growth in inflation-plagued Turkey gained pace in March, rising to 68.5 percent year-on-year, data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) revealed earlier this month.

Over the past several years the country has been suffering from a deteriorating economy, with high inflation and unemployment, as well as a poor human rights record. President Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing one-man rule in the country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.

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