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Turkish workers found the solution to the deeply rooted economic crisis by fighting against the companies and their wages policies

Economic crises and inflation rates are the number one agenda of every government in today’s world. They look for solutions to reduce the effects and concerns of the economic and financial difficulties over people and take many precautions to achieve that. Some countries did this successfully, but many failed to do so. Turkey is on the top of the failed countries with the highest inflation rate globally.

Although the Turkish economy was apparently not good since 2016, everything went worse after the pandemic. While governments in the west have paid stimulus checks to their publics during the pandemic, the Erdogan regime couldn’t do it because its wealth and resources were used to construct the palaces, roads, and bridges until 2016. In addition, all corruption and the rotted government structure of the Erdogan regime worsened everything. The famous corruption probe case of 2013 against Erdogan’s family and his cabinet members poured out everything about how the country’s resources are corrupted, and billions of dollars have disappeared. For example, after Malta Files were revealed, we learned that Binali Yildirim, former Prime Minister of Turkey, owned assets worth $140 million in different countries. How could a government official make such money with the means of government allowances? When the corruption probe took place and top officials’ houses were searched, a tremendous amount of money was found in their houses by police officers. All that showed that the Erdogan government is a government of the money, by the money, for the money. 

After all these corruption cases, the Turkish people made a poor judgment and supported the Erdogan regime after seeing all corruption reports and news. when the people were asked how they could justify their support to a corrupt person, they said, “they steal, but at least they work hard.” And Erdogan continued running the country since then, and nothing went well but worsened every passing time. After seeing the public doesn’t care about corruption, the resources are misused and corrupted at every opportunity. That deepened the economic crisis profoundly. There were not many options in the hands of Erdogan’s government to change the poorly managed economy. Likewise, it had to keep the money flowing into their accounts, so political tensions and a state of chaos are always seen as the solution to any crisis by the Erdogan regime to make people fear and forget about the economic crisis and keep his reign going.

Turkish people never understood that Erdogan was using their fears and feelings to keep them obliged to himself as if they needed to. This was a kind of trap that people lovingly fell into with all the suffering they were used to living. They couldn’t escape and free themselves from these traps, and they were caught in one trap after another. And Erdogan’s regime went far in 2016 and organized a staged, bloody fake coup attempt that ended with 250 death and thousands of wounded people to unite everyone under his party to cover up the ongoing economic crisis. This time, it is not just the people but even the opposition parties who supported him. A quote from Shakespeare would be stunning to express the state of feelings and actions of the opposition parties here “extreme fear can neither fight nor fly.” So, the opposition parties chose to surrender as others did without questioning anything about the fake and staged coup. And Erdogan gained tremendous power after the staged coup, and he extravagantly spent almost everything available as a nation’s wealth at the central bank to consolidate his power.

Unexpectedly, when the pandemic broke out and hit the world, countries shut down everything to stop its spread. This was not the best thing that may happen to any country for its economic and financial affairs, but governments dearly felt it to save their people’s lives from the Covid-19 by shutting their countries down. But Turkey, especially the Erdogan regime, couldn’t do it. With no financial resources available to the government, the Erdogan regime asked people to continue their lives and work. Thousands of people died daily with the fast spread of the Covid-19 in the first months of the pandemic because of the government’s inadequate precautions. The Erdogan regime even couldn’t introduce any helpful economic packages that may relieve the burden of the people with some subsidies and financial help. This was because of the scarcity of resources resulting from never-ending corruption and misusing the resources. But, with the use of Turkish media under Erdogan’s tutelage, people were made to believe that the US and the western countries, especially Germany, are ‘collapsed’ with high inflation rates due to the pandemic. The message that was given by Erdogan’s media was that Turkey is not that bad, and even big countries are having the same problems. Of course, this news doesn’t reflect reality, and we live in an era of post-truth, so there was nothing wrong with making fake news in Turkish media. And Turkish people generally bought it. Because of Turkish people’s lack of intellectual curiosity, most people believe whatever is said to them without searching for the truth. This is why many people still support the Erdogan regime even after he fails to change anything in terms of the economy again and again.

The people in Turkey blindly loved Erdogan, and he never lost the support of the people even after he led the country to dozens of crises with the pre-accepted presumption of people for Erdogan’s ‘perfectness.’ If anything is wrong, it should be because of bad ministers, bureaucrats, or anyone but not by Erdogan. Erdogan used this perception of the people perfectly, and after every crisis, he sacrificed someone as the one responsible for everything, and with that, people were calmed down. He has changed the minister of treasury and finances a couple of times and president of The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey. So, Erdogan’s reign was sometimes shaken but never fell because of people’s presumption: “Erdogan tries his best to fix things, but corrupt people around him don’t allow him.” Nothing could harm the country more than anything as much as this presumption did in the last 20 years of the country.

As expected, the Turkish Lira historically hit the lowest against the dollar in the last quarter of 2021, inflation skyrocketed, and the power of purchasing of Turkish Lira weakened all the time low. On December 20, 1 dollar soared up to 17 TL, and it was all the highest for the last 38 years. Last December, the Turkish Lira was on swings and hardly ‘stabilized’ by the Erdogan regime. It is still high but somehow kept under 14 TL. With all these changes in Turkish currency, inflation doubled, everything got more expensive, and taxes rained to everything from essential non-essential to luxury goods. The middle class is shrinking and disappearing, life is much more costly than before, and this is slowly and negatively changing the entire Turkish society.

Because of the lack of intellectual curiosity, people are again made to believe that the dollar soaring, tax increments, and economic crisis are just because of ‘external enemies’ who want to destroy the Turkish economy. So, most thought that Erdogan as a ‘worrier’ would protect them from this catastrophe as he has nothing to do with all, and everyone would rest after that. So, Erdogan has beaten everyone by increasing the minimum wage by a massive 50% for 2022 and giving guarantees to protect local deposits against market moves. After Erdogan controlled the soaring of dollars with guarantees and gave %50 increments, people came out to the streets and made folk dances in many cities in Turkey. In the eyes of the public, Erdogan as their savior saved them again from ‘external enemies,’ ‘interest-rate lobby,’ and ‘other internal enemies’ without noticing that nothing is changing and they are getting poorer every passing day.

After the government increased the minimum wage by % 50, workers from many fields went on strikes and protests for better pay from their employers. According to many people in Turkey, if prices are hiked, everything is more expensive; the problem here is only poor wages are paid to the workers, so they felt striking against their employers would help. It is always good for people to seek their rights against their employers, but how about the government, bad economic management, political and social tensions that put everything on a thin thread and caused deep and rooted economic and financial problems. Is this not part of the problem?

As explained above, Erdogan is presumably doing everything’ right’ in Turkey, but others don’t want him to do good in people’s minds. So, as if there is no economic crisis that affects everything in Turkey, employers are reluctant to give the rights of the employees; employers wanted to strike against their employers but not against the government. Anyone could strike against anyone and seek their rights, I found nothing wrong in this, but I am questioning how people could be that blind and don’t see the source of the problem caused by who. After every crisis at any level, people always look at its solutions outside and couldn’t genuinely produce any permanent solutions but temporary solutions to their rooted problems.

Soaring energy bills have shaken people a little, and the government was protested in some cities in Turkey, but nothing happened at large. The leader of the main opposition party denied paying the electric bills till the latest taxes were removed; even MNAs from his party couldn’t dare to support him to say the same thing. Turkey is a strange country in terms of politics. As everyone expects a normal political ecology in any country, we look for the same thing. But politics, politicians, and parties were never normal in Turkey, and even parties are divided into different segments in Turkey. These different segments with different ideological backgrounds in parties sometimes appear as dynamic or passive. But no matter how these groups position themselves, it weakens any political party. In the case mentioned above, many MNAs of the main opposition party couldn’t support their leader by asking the same thing from the government. It is unrealistic to expect the people to protest the government, whereas opposition MNAs enjoy their lives and do nothing serious. 

This issue is also far away from being a problem for the government. Because private companies distributed electricity after the Erdogan regime privatized them all, a rumor that is ‘the latest taxes are made by these private companies, but not by the government’ would be spread to everyone across the country, which would help Erdogan calm the people down. Erdogan, like oil, again stays on top of the water. Has anything changed after these rumors? Did Erdogan force these private companies to remove the latest taxes? No never. Who cares about it? No one. Why are the bills high? Because of the private electric distribution companies. Again, we found someone to blame but not Erdogan. So, we can now happily continue our lives with all our sufferings no matter what.

Turkish people could only get out of these troubles and economic problems if they could see who troubles them and what causes them. Is there any hope for that? No. People would continue to blame others because of the lack of intellectual, economic, and social curiosity. They will always look for a savior to save them in a waiting mood no matter how much they suffer now or later. And that waiting continues almost for over 100 years. No one has appeared yet since and will never arise. Mass protests against government and stakeholders could only change the game and help people change their future. Small demonstrations may help them improve their lives for the time being, but they will continue to have the same problems around.

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Engin Yigit is a Politurco columnist, activist, and author. Follow him at @enginyigtt.

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