Turkish opposition leaders call for early elections amid lira's downfall

Turkish opposition leaders have once again called for early elections amid the lira's sharp fall against the dollar and soaring prices. Their call came shortly after Erdoğan vowed to push for lower interest rates, ahead of a critical Central Bank rate-setting meeting on Nov. 18.

Kılıçdaroğlu (L) and Akşener hold a press meeting after their meeting at the İYİ Party headquarters on Nov 17.

Duvar English

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and İYİ (Good) Party chair Meral Akşener have once again called for early elections as they met at the İYİ Party headquarters on Nov. 17.

In his message on social media, Kılıçadaroğlu said that the meeting was held in response to “urgency in the agenda” of Turkey.

The meeting came just a few hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated his unconventional hypothesis that reducing interest rates will lead to lower inflation, in a move that pushed the lira to a new record low of 10.63 to the dollar.

Following their meeting, Kılıçdaroğlu and Akşener addressed the press, demanding that Erdoğan declare early elections amid soaring prices and depreciating lira.

Kılıçdaroğlu said that with every day that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is staying in the power, Turkey is being pushed into a deepening economic crisis.

Slamming Erdoğan over his constant interference in the policies of the Central Bank, Kılıçdaroğlu said that the top bank was straying away from its core goal of ensuring price stability. “Normally, the Central Bank should be dealing with the price stability, but it has given up on its job,” he said.

“The [presidential] palace is in good spirits. They are only spectators to the depreciation of Turkish Lira,” he said.

The CHP leader said that the AKP can no longer manage the country or economy, as more and more people find themselves in poverty every day.

“Leave the power as soon as possible with the elections. Let a new government come so that this country can be managed properly. We have met with the [İYİ Party] chairwoman and her colleagues. We have shared our concerns with regards to the course of events,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

In comments similar to those of Kılıçdaroğlu, Akşener said that Turkey is facing a “big problem” due to the policies of the AKP government. “We came together, put forward immediate solution prescriptions and sought for a solution. I agree with [Kılıçdaroğlu's] call for immediate elections. The elections need to be held in an unbiased way. The end of the road has been seen,” she said.

Following the two leaders' remarks, AKP parliamentary group deputy chair Bülent Turan said that the elections will be held as scheduled in 2023. 

"Turkey does not have an agenda such as the early elections. The elections will be held on time," Turan wrote on Twitter, also mentioning Kılıçdaroğlu and Akşener. 

The Turkish lira fell to a record low against the dollar on Nov. 17 as Erdoğan vowed to push for lower interest rates, a day before a critical Central Bank rate-setting meeting.

Addressing members of his ruling AKP in parliament Erdoğan said that he can't walk alongside those defending interest rates. 

"Interest rates are the cause and inflation is the result. Our friends who defend interest rates should not be offended, but I can't walk together with those defending interest rates," Erdoğan said. 

After the parliamentary group meeting, Erdoğan claimed that Turkey's Central Bank is independent. "Isn't the central bank independent? Let it decide independently," he told reporters. 

After falling almost 3% on Nov. 16, the lira slipped further to 10.51 to the dollar, bringing 2021 losses to 28% - the worst among EM peers.

Bowing to political pressure, the central bank is seen cutting the policy rate by 100 basis points to 15% on Nov. 18, which would see the rate down by 400 bps since September, while inflation surges to almost 20%.

Erdoğan has replaced several Central Bank chiefs and members in his drive to lower rates in the hopes it will spur economic growth.