AKP's new housing project is investment for elections, says opposition

Turkey's opposition figures evaluated the ruling AKP's new social housing project that aims to create 500,000 new housing units in the next five years. Seven opposition parties deemed the package as part of the general election agenda of the AKP.

Serkan Alan / DUVAR

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 13 announced a new social housing project aiming to create 500,000 housing units and 50,000 workplaces in the upcoming five years in all provinces of Turkey. 

Accordingly, those who want to benefit from the project will be asked to pay monthly installments of 2,280 liras for 240 months for a 2+1 house (two bedrooms and a saloon), and 3,187 liras for a 3+1 house (three bedrooms and a saloon). 

Seven opposition parties deemed the package as part of the general election agenda of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is planned to be held in June 2023.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) spokesperson Faik Öztrak said the ruling AKP aims to enrich pro-AKP business figures with this project. 

“It is not possible for them to have enough time to conclude these projects,” Öztrak said, noting that the AKP will not assume power in the upcoming elections.

Öztrak said that when the CHP comes to power, it will prepare much more comprehensive housing projects.

“They do not target low-income groups. This project was largely designed to enrich pro-AKP figures,” he said. 

Right-wing İYİ (Good) Party parliamentary group chair İsmail Tatlıoğlu said that the AKP is aware that social support for the party is declining.

"When we look at the last six months, the only promise that Mr. Erdoğan did not make was bringing Mars to the earth," Tatlıoğlu said, adding the social housing project is a "positive" project but these steps should have been taken much earlier.

“When we come to power, we will increase the number of these projects. We will do this in a way that will not allow corruption,” he added.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MP Garo Paylan expressed that there has been a very serious housing crisis in Turkey for years but the government has only been “monitoring” the situation.

"When there are seven months left for the election, the government announces a social housing project. I consider this purely an election investment. If you had such an intention, why did you wait for years?” Paylan said, adding he supports such social housing projects.

“Middle-income citizens may be able to pay these amounts, but I think that low-income citizens are ignored,” he said.

Islamist Felicity (Saadet) Party Deputy Chairman Fatih Aydın said these projects are not the solution for people to acquire housing.

“Turkey does not need more housing. There are nearly 1.5 million vacant houses in Istanbul. But because people's purchasing power has decreased, people can't buy houses or cars,” Aydın said.

Future Party spokesperson Serkan Özcan said that the government’s main duty is to create a stable economic situation.

“They need to maintain a stable exchange rate and balanced financial situation. You can't have a better economy by construction. Today, the problem of housing and hunger has reached such a point that the most important condition of being a social state is to implement policies that will eliminate them," he said. 

DEVA (Democracy and Progress) Party Economic and Financial Policies head İbrahim Çanakcı also pointed out that the purchasing power of people has significantly deteriorated and said, “Will these people use their income for food, for other needs, or will they allocate 40 percent of their minimum wage to housing?”

The official minimum wage as of July 2022 is 5,500 Turkish Liras ($301).

Lastly, Democrat Party Economic Affairs head Bülent Şahinalp said that the AKP continues its “economy reliance on concrete and construction.”

He said that industry and other sectors were pushed aside, and as of now, Turkey cannot produce, invest or create sufficient employment or exports.

(English version by Alperen Şen)