Protests in Turkey against lira collapsing to record lows

  • The lira, the Turkish currency, has lost 40% of its value in 2021, and the Turks are suffering from galloping inflation which devours all savings

  • ‘What’s going on? Can’t we protest? We can’t survive. We can’t and it’s not getting to us,’ protester complains as police gesture to arrest him

He is at night and it’s cold and the head of police detachment we see that he is tired of being here, in a wasteland in a neighborhood on the European side of Istanbul. The policeman wants to go home.

“Listen, ma’am, I’m telling you this so you can tell those who haven’t arrived yet. This event is not allowed by order of the district governor. They can’t be here. go away please“, tells the policeman to a future demonstrator who is not yet one because there are ten minutes left before the start of the demonstration. The lady is afraid, she doubts, but she says that everyone makes their choice, that those who go come will come, and whatever god wants.

“The moment they start, we charge. We will take several stopped. I tell you to warn you, madam, so that you know what you are up to, finishes the policeman, who leaves with his companions. Protesters wait. There are a few dozen of them, and among them there is a silent fatalism: let it be what it should be.

As in Istanbul, in most major Turkish cities, this Wednesday they organized small simultaneous demonstrations Turks who say they can’t take it anymore. In the past year, the value of the lira, the Turkish currency, has fallen by 40% against the dollar and the euro. Most of this fall took place this past week and, especially, this Tuesday. In a single day, the lira fell 12%to recover somewhat this Wednesday.

The figures hide something worse: in January of this year, for example, the turkish minimum wage was equivalent to a number close to 320€. is now equal to 200and the inflationaccording to independent studies, is close to 50% per year.

rates and interest

The reasons for the economic crisis they are several. With Turkish power in the hands of one man, Recep Tayyip Erdoğanthe international markets are wary of their economic policies which they describe as “heterodox”.

The Turkish president assures, for example, that high interest rates – what a bank charges to grant a loan – are the cause of inflation. Economic orthodoxy assures the contrary. “Currently, the government’s main strategy is to keep the lira cheap in order to increase exports and tourism revenues. This creates low productivity growth and has created a Turkish economy whose appeal is low cost labor& rdquor ;, explains to this newspaper the economist Hakan Karaformer member of Turkish Central Bankwhich continues: “With the poorest people suffering from high inflation, the popularity of the current government has been declining for some time & rdquor;.

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In Istanbul, the demonstration begins, and a retiree is the first to ring the pan that he brought for the occasion. Two cops jump on him. They take the man next to him. They push the demonstrators to leave.

“What’s going on? I’ve lived my whole life in this country. I’m also citizen, like you. Can’t we protest? Do not you see it ? we can’t survive. We cannot and it does not reach us. I’m 70, 70! & rdquor ;, exclaims the man.

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