Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP), has vowed to ensure the independence of the Central Bank if elected, amid currency turbulence and investor doubts about Turkey’s economic future.
“The Central Bank needs to be independent and other economic bodies need to be autonomous. The rules need to operate,” İnce told Reuters in an interview on May 16.
His comment came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Bloomberg TV on May 14 that he plans to take greater control of Turkey’s economy after the June 24 snap presidential and parliamentary elections, prompting the Turkish Lira to hit record lows against the U.S. dollar and the euro.
Erdoğan, a self-described “enemy of interest rates,” wants lower borrowing costs to boost credit and new construction, and has said the Central Bank will not be able to ignore the president’s wishes, fuelling concerns about the Bank’s ability to fight double-digit inflation.
“He’s taking the country to the cliff,” İnce said, adding that Erdoğan is driven by “ideological obsessions” that are pushing Turkey in the wrong direction.
“The state of the media is heartbreaking. They have surrendered, they have kneeled,” İnce said, adding that he would hold rallies directly outside major broadcasters’ offices if they continue to fail to provide fair coverage.
A new executive system introduced by a controversial constitutional amendment grants sweeping powers to the president, but İnce pledged to reverse some of the powers if elected, saying they handed “total control of the budget, the judiciary and the executive to one person.”
“No mortal should be given such authority. It shouldn’t be given to me either,” he said.
İnce has pledged to be a non-partisan leader if elected, styling himself as “everyone’s president” and promising not to live in the 1,000-room palace built by Erdoğan in Ankara.
“I see that a wind of change is blowing,” he said, pointing to what he described as a new atmosphere at his political rallies compared to last year’s referendum campaign.
“The momentum I am building is very different, there is a strong wind and people feel excitement,” he said.