Turkish Presidency Communications Directorate loosens purse strings ahead of elections

Turkey’s Presidency Communications Directorate has increased its spending considerably in February, ahead of the elections scheduled for May 14. The directorate spent 188.8 million liras in February of this year, whereas its expenses had amounted to 50.4 million liras in the same month of last year.  

This file photo shows the building of the Turkish Presidency Communications Directorate.

Duvar English

Turkey’s Presidency Communications Directorate, run by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s advisor Fahrettin Altun, spent 188.8 million liras in February 2023, an increase from 50.4 million liras in the same month of last year, according to reporting by the daily Birgün.

The substantial increase of 274 percent on an annual basis comes as Erdoğan is facing his toughest elections scheduled for May 14. The directorate is known to launch many campaigns to boost support for Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

In January 2023, the directorate’s expenses were recorded as 44.3 milion liras, therefore making its spending in the first two months of the year as 233.1 million liras. This amount surpasses the budget of many other directorates for the same period such as the Climate Change Directorate under Environment Ministry.

The Presidency Communications Directorate was allocated a budget of 344 million liras in 2019, whereas this figure increased to 1.6 billion liras in 2023, drawing ire among citizens who questioned the necessity of these funds.

An expense item that the Presidency Communications Directorate is known for is “Representation and Publicity.” This expense was recorded as 6.6 million liras in 2021 whereas it increased to 144.7 million liras for just the first half of the year. In 2023, the directorate was allocated a budget of 327 million in 2023 for this expense item.   

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy group chair Özgür Özel told daily Birgün that the directorate is serving as a “propaganda ministry” and “the regime of one-man has turned it into a media patron managing public institutions and owning several newspapers and TV channels.”

“It is an organization that cannot tolerate different voices ahead of the elections, that threatens politicians, journalists and media organs with fines, and that creates screens in support of itself with the public funds,” Özel said, adding that several media outlets have been “creating disinformation with the permission of the Communications Directorate.”