Turkey: “Our country is in danger of sinking into chaos”

Status: 11/24/2021 1:56 p.m.

The lira falls and falls. There were protests against President Erdogan’s government in several Turkish cities. People are calling for an end to the collapse of the currency – and early elections.

By Karin Senz, ARD-Studio Istanbul

Long lines can be seen in front of Istanbul’s exchange offices, which are located on every corner. Foreigners are happy about the great exchange rate. For one US dollar around 13 lira, for one euro around 14 lira – recently it was ten lira. For Turks, on the other hand, frustration breaks through in the evening: “Hükümet Istifa!”, They shout: Government, resign!

Karin Senz
ARD-Studio Istanbul

Nationwide protests

People are on the streets in several cities in Turkey: in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, but also in Sanliurfa in the southeast. This is shown by Twitter videos. According to Turkish media reports, students from elite universities are also among the demonstrators in Istanbul and Ankara.

Sometimes the police take action against them. In the center of Istanbul there are barriers on Taksim Square – this is where the last major protests against Erdogan’s government took place in 2013. A journalist from a news portal critical of the government was reportedly arrested in Kocaeli near Istanbul.

Inflation of 20 percent – or even more

Sedat, a waiter from Istanbul, is behind the protests. “Why not? The people have to express themselves. After all, there is nothing wrong with protesting,” he says. But to participate yourself, that is difficult. “I have a wife and children at home. I’d rather not.”

Many in Turkey receive the minimum wage of around 2,800 lira a month. At the beginning of the year that was more than 300 euros, now it’s less than 200. Added to this is inflation of recently officially just under 20 percent. Critical experts assume significantly more.

Food, clothing, electricity – everything is more expensive again

The housewife Deniz has just come out of the discounter. She looks exhausted, tired. It’s getting harder and harder to cope with rising prices, she says. “From the kitchen, that is, the groceries, to the heating bills, electricity bills and what the children need – for school or clothing, for example. I have just paid a full 30 lira for that little bit here. Interesting, isn’t it. For one Bread, six eggs and a maximum of one and a half kilos of potatoes. ” She points to a small plastic bag.

Nonetheless, open protest on the street is only an option to a limited extent for the 49-year-old: “To be honest, I would like to take part, too. But our country is in danger of sinking into chaos,” she says. She doesn’t want that. “That’s why I only protest mentally and wait patiently until the next election, in order to then democratically express my protest at the ballot box.”

Ex-Prime Minister calls for new elections

Ahmet Davutoglu, the former prime minister and AKP party colleague of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also advises against demonstrations. He tweeted: Elections now. Davutoglu moved to the opposition camp a long time ago, as did Ali Babacan.

Babacan was also a member of the ruling AKP party and has now founded his own party. He wrote to Erdogan’s address on Twitter: Stop it, now!

Erdogan doesn’t want to vote again until 2023

Early elections are out of the question for Erdogan. He recently made that clear again: “You are talking about early elections, the elections are in June 2023. Once upon a time, elections were held every 15 to 20 months. We’re not a banana republic.”

In 2018 Erdogan himself had brought the elections forward by almost a year and a half.

“Something has to change in the situation”

On Twitter, government supporters write under the hashtag “We stand by our state”, the other side under “Government resigns and elections immediately”. Behind it is also the day laborer Ali. “Yes, there should be early elections. I’m definitely for it,” he says. “As soon as possible. Something has to change in the situation. Elections immediately – not in a year and a half.”

Early elections or not – that doesn’t matter to Istanbul shopkeeper Ekrem. For him, one thing is only clear: the fault lies in the system, in the presidential system that Erdogan introduced in 2018. “It is impossible for one person to know everything. But when all power is in the hands of one person, it cannot go well,” he says.

Ali does not name Erdogan, but it is seldom a clear criticism on the street. Many don’t dare to say anything in public these days. Those who demonstrate risk a lot.

During the night the fuel price is to be raised again. Further protests have been announced.

Protest against the Turkish government in the streets and online

Karin Senz, ARD Istanbul, 11/24/2021 12:40 p.m.

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