MHP’s ‘free bread’ campaign draws opposition’s reaction

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The opposition has slammed the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for launching a “free bread” campaign instead of forcing its ally, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), to salvage the economy through structural reforms to eradicate poverty in the country.

“We should point out this fact: You launch a free bread campaign at a time when you suggest that the economy has taken off. That means one of you is a liar. It’s either ‘the economy has taken off’ or free bread [for those who cannot earn a living],” İYİ (Good) Party chair Meral Akşener told her parliamentary group on Oct. 20.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu echoed Akşener’s criticisms in his address to his parliamentary group, suggesting this free bread campaign is a blatant example of the collapse of the Turkish economy under the AKP rule.

“The point we have arrived at is the ‘free bread project.’ What a visionary project. No other project could depict the poverty we are suffering today and the humiliation of the 18-year rule [of the AKP]. That’s why I want to thank Mr. Bahçeli,” he stated.

“We are in the 21st Century. And what [they] are proposing is free bread,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Kılıçdaroğlu and Akşener’s criticisms came after some MHP and AKP municipalities launched the “free bread” campaign for low-income families. Akşener recalled that giving out free bread is a centuries-old tradition in Anatolia, which has been implemented discreetly in order not to humiliate the poor.

The tradition of free bread, free breakfast or free soup continues in many parts of Turkey. When a customer buys a loaf of bread from a bakery, he pays for two whereby the other bread will be given to those who are in need by the bakery. The bakery usually hangs a sign showing how many free breads the shop has to inform people.

“They have become so out of touch with our people that they have even forgotten about our free bread tradition,” Akşener said.

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli responded to Akşener at his party’s group meeting in parliament, stressing that the decision about the campaign was taken after the Istanbul Trade Chamber increased the price of a kilogram of bread from 6.25 to 7.5 Turkish Liras.

“We wanted to help our low and middle-income citizens without hurting their honor,” Bahçeli stressed, describing the campaign as a reflection of togetherness and sharing.

The MHP lashed out at Akşener for bringing this issue to the agenda and accused her of showing intolerance to national and moral values.

“These people use all opportunities to discredit Turkey and the Turkish economy,” he stated.

Hurriyet Daily News

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