Investors and economists in Turkey have not adopted the “matter of security” discourse but have instead been concerned about the economy, Arda Ermut, head of the Turkish Presidency’s Investment Office said in an interview with the Economist.
Ermut said that he was no longer being asked about security-related questions, instead, people have been asking about economy-related topics.
“Questions asked to us have been changing from time to time, according to the situation in Turkey right now. There are no more questions concerning the security of the country, which is a good thing for me. In the past, I was asked about the [July 2016] coup and terror,” said Ermut, who has received the Bureaucrat of the year award at the Economist Magazine Businessman of the Year Awards 2019.
The head of the office announced the questions have been mostly focused on the latest economic developments, economic forecasts, and currency volatility. According to Ermut, “stability in the economy” is the top topic people are concerned about.
In contrast to the bureaucrat’s saying the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) maintained their “matter of survival” rhetoric through the latest campaign for the March 31 local election.
The AKP-MHP alliance turned even further their economic arguments into security-related topics.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed vegetable sellers of manipulation in the face of soaring prices, waging a war against them for what he called “food terrorism.”
“They have begun to play games in Turkey. The prices have begun to escalate. This is terrorism,” Said Erdogan.
Erdogan ordered AKP municipalities to set up stalls in Ankara and Istanbul selling subsidized vegetables.
On the other side, food producers and sellers, however, claimed that the higher prices were due to Erdogan’s bad economic rule as the cost of labor, fertilizer, and fuel have risen.
Despite the combative style two-month campaign of the AKP-MHP alliance backed by an overwhelmingly pro-government media, campaign, some opposition party candidates still managed to win in the election.
Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayoral candidate for Istanbul from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) was the most noticeable example in that regard.
Many believe the softly-spoken Imamoglu won over a broad spectrum of voters with his positive messages during his campaign.
Besides Istanbul, AKP has lost control of four more biggest cities including the capital Ankara, in a blow to Erdogan’s 16-year rule.
Even some AKP seniors who spoke to Reuters early in April said there were flaws in their campaign with adopting an aggressive stance against opponents. They believe that the divisive and polarizing tone had been “ill-suited for voters worried about living standards and local services” and had therefore backfired.