What I mean by the confessions is not limited to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent u-turn about the electricity price hikes, in which he stated that the threshold for the low consumption was miscalculated because of the request of the electricity companies. At the beginning of 2022, the government announced further gradual price adjustments for electricity consumption. According to this adjustment, energy prices were increased 50% for households that consume less than 5kWh for a day, 150 kWh for a month. For higher consumption, the increase reached 125%. In Turkey, households pay for electricity consumption with monthly payments. According to the Chamber of Electrical Engineers, a family of four’s monthly minimum electricity consumption is 230 kWh a month. When the first round of bills arrived at the middle class, the 125% hikes reflected upon the bills and created a major backlash.
After the public outcry, Erdoğan announced that the threshold was increased to 210 kWh in his address on January 31 after the cabinet meeting. However, it was not his only confession, in his speech, he also listed a series of confessions that indicates more systematic mistakes. I want to elaborate on them to clarify what I meant by falling apart.
Firstly, Erdoğan said, “Unfortunately, we will have to face the consequences of the accidental rise in inflation for a while.” The first question that comes to mind is when exactly did this “accidental rise” happen? Reading this sentence, one may think that Erdogan has recently taken over power, not 20 years ago and that he has an obligation to carry the mistakes of the previous governments. However, even in 2016, when the July 15 coup attempt took place, we know that inflation was at the level of 8.5 %. The unstoppable escalation started with the 2018 elections when Erdoğan began extorting public funds to keep the exchange rate and interest rates artificially low, claiming that “interest is the source of inflation”.
Let’s come to the issue of “consequences” and “ephemeral rise”
“We will change the recent image of our country by quickly tackling the ephemeral inflation hikes like the ephemeral fluctuations in the currency. The currency volatility and exorbitant prices are just small stones in our way,” Erdoğan had said not long ago on January 4 to AKP’s provincial heads; now, he is talking about “facing the consequences.”
The “ephemeral” phase apparently hasn’t found a way to be ephemeral. What a transitory phase that currency fluctuations and prices were that could not pass away. The AKP experts predicted that the US Dollar would decrease to 9,5 Turkish Liras at the beginning of 2022 due to controversial December 20 decisions. But as of February 1, one US dollars worth 13,4 Turkish Liras. From Erdoğan’s confessions, it can be predicted that the inflation would not stay at 36%.
Moreover, the prices, which climbed to “exorbitant” levels when the dollar rate rose to 18 Turkish Liras, did not decrease at the same rate when the dollar was “decreased” to 13.5 Turkish Liras and prices continued to increase. Confessions also show that what Erdoğan described as small stones was actually rock chunks.
In other words, the calculations are falling apart not only about electricity price hikes but also on many issues.
As the confessions begin: “Fighting FETÖ”
Elaborating on the appointment of Bekir Bozdağ for the Justice Ministry post for the third time in place of Abdulhamit Gül, Erdoğan said, “we remember him with his vaillant defiance against the putschists on the night of July 15 when bombs rained down on the Parliament.”
It is noteworthy that Erdogan linked the appointment of Bekir Bozdag with the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization which is led by Fethullah Gulen, US-based cleric who is indicted to orchestrate the July 15 2016, coup attempt.
After Bozdağ was appointed to the ministry on January 29, his previous words about Gülen were posted on social media. In 2011, when the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) had been criticizing the Fethullah Gülen’s clandestine organization infiltrating the state institutions, Bozdağ as the Minister of Justice of that time, praised Gülen from the Grand National Assembly.
Moreover, what convinced Erdoğan to accept Gül’s resignation as the Minister of Justice was about the same issue. Gül participated in the discussions over the publication of İstanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu’s CCTV footage by defining the publication as “FETÖ methods”, which is interpreted as a criticism to the Ministry of Interior under the administration of Süleyman Soylu.
AKP sources say that Bozdağ will try to break the influence of the Menzil sect and Hakyol groups over the Judiciary. They took the place of the infiltrated Fethullahists who were “cleansed” after the July 15 coup attempt. Does Erdogan’s emphasis on July 15 indicate that a mistake to be made in the fight against the Fethullahists is among the confessions?
Arab real estate agent grateful for the construction of Kanal Istanbul
Recently, Deniz Zeyrek wrote in Sözcü newspaper about the construction of the railway crossing of the Yavuz Selim Bridge, also known as the Third Istanbul Bridge. The high-speed train line project that will connect Istanbul Airport to Akyazı has a 50 billion TL budget. Zeyrek wrote that the project was divided into four phases and that it was already determined to whom each phase’s tender would be granted. Among the usual suspects you can guess are Cengiz, Makyol, Özaltın, MetGün, İçtaş, Türkerler, Çelikler. However, companies do not want to enter the tender this time for two reasons. First, they cannot determine costs due to rising prices. Second, they now consider the possibility of Erdogan leaving power in the first election.
Speaking of mega projects, Çiğdem Toker wrote again in Sözcü about Canal Istanbul project. A Jordanian real estate agent was praying for Erdogan in his video. The reason is that some lands in the Yenişehir region on the Canal-Istanbul route have been opened to housing and trade. Toker researched: Jordanian citizen Husam Tamim Moh’d Aladani has already started advertisements as the Go Smart real estate company he founded in Başakşehir in 2019 to Arab customers who have not yet bought land from Kanal Istanbul.
Nerves get tense as the crowds get smaller
As Erdogan’s economic and political calculations turn out to be wrong and people carry the burden of the inflation’s “consequences”, not the administration, it seems that the masses that fill the squares and halls to see Erdoğan are decreasing.
We witnessed this for the first time at CHP’s Mersin rally. Erdogan recently shouted at Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoğlu in Giresun in front of everyone, asking, “Why did you hold the meeting in the small hall?”. Indeed, there were larger halls in Giresun. But it is the classical method; politicians prefer small spaces halls to highlight the crowd in periods when the masses are not as large as desired.
And then there is the case of Trabzon where a young boy insulted CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Even one of my sources, who is adept at producing reasonable justifications for everything Erdogan does, responded, “This is what happens when you exaggerate the show,” in a bored tone. Confessions will begin soon.
Sezen Aksu and Sedef Kabaş
When it comes to confessions, of course, Sezen Aksu should not be forgotten.
I can’t say Erdoğan took a step back from the mistake, or it is a confession of wrongdoing. He did not take back his words “cutting the tongue”. He just said he didn’t mean just Sezen Aksu, leaving the question of who he meant.
Do the confessions also include journalist Sedef Kabaş, who was arrested? Tens of thousands of “insult lawsuits” are not unheard of in world political history in that respect.