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Ankara pins electoral hopes on ignoring economic realities

The Turkish government’s vacillations and zigzagging in the face of the country’s economic woes reflect how squeezed it has become economically and politically and how concerned it is about it with elections scheduled for March.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC19DE38A000
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has quickly returned to anti-American ranting after conciliatory messages to Washington and Berlin two weeks ago that seemed to herald a bid to mend fences with the West. In an Oct. 6 speech heavily peppered with anti-American rhetoric, Erdogan nixed a consultancy deal with the US company McKinsey that Finance Minister Berat Albayrak had recently announced as part of efforts to fix the ailing economy. Turkey can manage it by itself, Erdogan asserted, only days after Albayrak, who happens to be his son-in-law, said that those opposed to collaboration with McKinsey were “either ignorant or traitors.”

Such zigzagging in Ankara reflects how economically and politically squeezed Erdogan’s government has become. On the economic front, it faces a hefty debt stock, a badly weakened currency, an inflation rate of nearly 25%, a serious unemployment problem and stagnation, which are causing loud grumbling among the electorate, including long-time voters for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). With municipal elections looming in March, the circle around Ankara tightens by the day.

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