New poll shows Turks' confidence in economy drops

Turks' feelings of confidence in the economy has dropped and the culprit in their eyes is mismanagement by the ruling government. 

According to new data from the Turkish polling firm Metropoll, 78% of those polled saw the direction of the economy as going badly, including a majority of voters for the ruling Justice & Development Party (AKP) and its coalition partner the National Movement Party (MHP). 

Metropoll's new research shows that 58% of AKP supporters and 69.4% of MHP supporters had this view of the economy. In terms of reasons why respondents believed the economy to be poor, 60.2% blamed "wrong economic policies", 45.9% responded that it was the presidential system, and an almost equal amount attributed it to what they saw as the incompetence of government officials.

Only 22.9% of polling participants put the blame on any foreign plot against Turkey to ruin its economy. 

These figures reflect poorly on the current government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP-MHP coalition. In recent years, Erdogan has rejected traditional economic orthodoxy in his policy choices, particularly on raising interest rates, which has negatively affected investor confidence in Turkey.

Erdogan's refusal to raise rates, politicization of independent government institutions such as the central bank, and his reluctance to change course has had the result of weakening the Turkish lira which has risen to record highs against the dollar. The challenge of managing the COVID-19 pandemic has only added to Turkey's economic difficulties.

Frustrated by international firms downgrading Turkey's credit rating or selling off their lira, Erdogan has frequently blamed foreign forces from global banks to the United States as seeking to undermine Turkey.

Prominent social media figures supportive of the AKP champion actions such as converting the Hagia Sophia into a mosque or discovering gas reserves in the Black Sea but these victories do not appear to be translating into any bump in approval ratings because of the poor economy.

In fact, the new research suggests that this is losing its power to sway voters. For the first time, Metropoll researchers found that less than 30% of votes were for the AKP which combined with the declining confidence in the economy could signal danger for the ruling coalition in future elections.

The firm's researchers caution that this does not necessarily lend to a replacement of the AKP right away, but Erdogan has made some decisions that appear designed to regain some of the lost confidence in the economy. 

Last weekend, Erdogan sacked the head of the central bank Murat Uysal and replaced him with Naci Agbal, a former finance minister. The next day Berat Albayrak, Erdogan's son in law and finance minister, resigned over social media, citing unspecified health issues. Sources close to the AKP suggested to other outlets that Albayrak resigned in part because Erdogan replaced Uysal without first consulting him.


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