Babacan says Turkish government policy punishing shopkeepers

Turkish opposition party leader Ali Babacan, a former economy minister, took aim at the government’s policy towards large supermarket chains, saying it was punishing shopkeepers and other small tradesmen.

The government is seeking to depict the opposition as the “bad guys”, has no policies itself, and witnessed public discontent at its policies at local elections in 2019, when it lost control of Istanbul and the capital Ankara, said Babacan, who leads the opposition Democracy and Progress party (DEVA), according to the Sözcü newspaper.

“They’re selling everything, so what will the owners of small shops, the butchers sell?” he said. Babacan also referred to a decision by retail chain A101 to start selling white goods such as refrigerators, saying it would hit smaller retailers.

Babacan’s DEVA is focusing on the economy and Turkey’s democratic shortcomings under the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Babacan established the party in March last year with several other ex-senior members of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Turkey considered restricting the urban areas where supermarkets could establish new outlets during Babacan’s tenure as economy minister in the AKP government, which ran from 2002 until 2007. Babacan also served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister responsible for the economy under Erdoğan from 2007 until 2015.