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Low-income Turks take early crisis blows

Turkey’s economic turmoil is already bruising millions of minimum wage earners, who are grappling with a flurry of price hikes and the prospect of losing jobs.
People shop at the Spice market, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, in Istanbul, Turkey August 17, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer - RC1261C678C0
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Following six consecutive quarters of high growth rates, Turkey’s economy appears to be coursing toward stagnation and, ultimately, contraction, as all leading indicators have been pointing to a slowdown since July. For decades, Turkey has had one of the world’s most unfair income distributions. The working classes have taken the hardest blow during times of economic turmoil, responding by voting against the ruling party in the first elections.

Though Turks went to the polls as recently as June, economic grievances did not figure prominently in the votes of roughly half of the electorate, which backed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP). Yet, popular discontent has grown fast since then amid surging inflation, company bankruptcies, loan repayment woes and uncertainty over what the country’s economic future holds. Ankara’s extensive control of the media and judiciary — and the more oppressive nature of the presidential system that took effect in June — are discouraging street protests and other public expressions of discontent, but an undercurrent of resentment is clearly growing.

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