İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) economic stewardship, comparing Turkey’s economy to a “bus heading over the cliff edge” after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent comments that he plans to tighten his grip on the economy.
“Our country’s situation is like a bus on the edge of a cliff. And unfortunately in the driver’s seat of this bus there is a tired driver. It is irresponsible for this driver to insist on sitting in that seat,” Akşener said at a May 16 press conference in Ankara that was also attended by the party’s deputy chair responsible for the economy, Ayfer Yılmaz, and former Central Bank head and İYİ Party consultant founder Durmuş Yılmaz.
The conference came after Erdoğan raised eyebrows on May 14 by saying he intends to take more responsibility for monetary policy if he wins the presidential election to be held on July 24, reiterating his long-voiced expectation that the Central Bank should lower interest rates.
“When the people fall into difficulties because of monetary policies, who are they going to hold accountable? Since they’ll ask the president about it, we have to give off the image of a president who is influential on monetary policies,” he told Bloomberg in an interview.
Describing Erdoğan’s statements as “an example of irresponsibility at the highest level,” Akşener said “Turkey is being ruled by a person who cannot control the words they utter.”
“Mr. Erdoğan’s recent speech that he delivered abroad have revealed the Turkish economy’s loneliness, showing the world that Turkey is forced to adopt an understanding that is detached from basic economic reality,” she said.
“Nobody with a sound mind would say they will intervene in independent institutions after elections, feeding on scaring people. The understanding that sacrifices the country to their own interests like winning elections is unacceptable,” Akşener added.
Erdoğan has repeatedly criticized high interest rates and warned banks to lower rates, controversially arguing that high rates are the cause of inflation.
Durmuş Yılmaz said the president’s stance on the relation between interest rates and inflation “has no scientific basis,” and his recent speeches are “populist messages targeting the domestic market because there is an audience.”
“It is very dangerous,” Yılmaz said, adding that the speeches “aim to create an environment of fear” that is “a political project implemented over exchange rates.”
“The irresponsible attack on institutions, the speeches that say he will tighten his grip on monetary policy are is not random words that are outside of science. [The AKP is trying] to consolidate its votes based on fear regarding the economy,” he said.
İYİ Party officials proposed “normalization” in monetary policy and interest rates by “ensuring the independence of the Central Bank” and “implementing transparent and accountable monetary policy.”
“The pressure on the Central Bank should be immediately lifted,” Ayfer Yılmaz said.
“We demand that decisions suitable to the necessities of the country be immediately taken. We demand that confusion in international markets and implementations that cause speculation be prevented,” she added.