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Turkey in a week, July 2nd, 2018

The week just after the snap elections for presidency and parliament witnessed Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s moves on the opposition parties, Republican People’s Party (CHP) and People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Firstly, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has ordered to governors via AKP’s undersecretaries that CHP’s province heads will not be allowed at the funerals of martyrs as protocol. Soylu accused the main opposition party of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) by allegedly supporting the legal opposition party HDP in the elections. Although CHP openly never said that its supports should have voted for HDP to help it pass the 10% election threshold, there was a general understanding among left wing people, including CHP voters that if HDP passes the threshold AKP-MHP alliance cannot reach the majority in the Parliament. Soylu referring to this strategy and given that HDP’s passed the threshold said that “If they were together in the polls, they will be together at funerals”.

CHP Central Executive Board held immediately an emergency meeting after Soylu’s statement. CHP spokesman Bülent Tezcan called Interior Minister Soylu to resign at the press conference after the meeting and said that the minister responsible for domestic security has become a threat to domestic security by “polarizing and separating” Turkish society himself. Tezcan continued saying that they will take their place at funerals in the front row.

A day before Soylu’s remarks, HDP co-head Pervin Buldan argued also that on June 26, Soylu told her on the phone that “you have no right to live anymore. We will show you, you are responsible.” over the murder of a local grocer in the eastern Turkish province of Ağrı for which PKK took responsibility. By confirming Buldan’s allegations Soylu stated that “Yes, I called Buldan. She said less than what I said”. HDP took the call from Soylu as a “threat to opposition politicians”.

Another important development happened last week, which contributed the opposition’s worries, was the arrest of CHP former MP Eren Erdem. Erdem has been arrested and put in the Silivri Prison over terrorism charges with alleged links to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ). CHP responded to Erdem’s imprisonment with strong statement by the Party’s spokesman, Tezcan. Tezcan argued that Erdem’s arrest was unlawful and decision was not a legal one but a political one. Tezcan said that this move is another step by AKP to create negative perception over the opposition.

The future of State of Emergency (SoE) was again one of the hot topics last week. Before the elections, Erdoğan had promised that SoE may be lifted after the elections even if Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), ally of AKP revealed last week they want to extend it again on July 18th. It was reported that AKP and MHP started bargaining over the future of SoE and they have reached an agreement on not to extend it for another 3 months. AKP seems to think that ending SoE may help increase the political legitimacy after the success of the elections and help the economy that need foreign capital inflows to finance its huge current account deficit and private companies debt.

Another development on the economy front is that the government started to end election measures. Followed by some private banks, public banks had decreased interest rates for mortgage credits to support housing sales that have had decreasing trend last couple of months before the elections. Last week public banks started rising the rates. The government also began announcing raises on several goods and services from bridge toll fees to oil, which had been postponed because of the elections despite high rise in dollar. These raises have been expected by the experts on the grounds that after the elections the government will have to accept an orthodox economic program based on IMF’s recommendations to convince the foreign investors investing on Turkish assets and to control inflation, value of Turkish Lira and current account deficit.

Next week the Parliament will be opened with the oath ceremony of newly elected MPs. However, the ceremony will be like a farewell to the Turkey’s old Parlimentary System as the Presidential Government System will be put in affect completely. Hürtaş’s piece on Halagazeteciyiz gives the details of the new system.

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