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Turkey in a Week, December 24th, 2018

The Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) reported the unemployment rates for September. It is shown that 11.4 per cent of the labor force could not find employment in that month. According to the figures the unemployment rate has risen 0.8 points compared to September 2017. The number of unemployed reached 3 million and 749 thousand people.

The increase in the rate is a part of the trend. In August it had shown an increase of 0.5 point and reached 11.1 per cent. The figures show that the non-agricultural unemployment increased 0.8 point and reached 13.5 per cent. On the other hand youth unemployment rate (between the ages of 15 and 24) has increased to 21.6 per cent.

The labor force participation rate is recorded as 54 per cent. On the other hand the rate of informally employed was announced to be 33.8 per cent.

Turkish Statistical Institute has also announced the minimum subsistence level in a separate report. The report has a significance in determining next year’s minimum wage rate by the Minimum Wage Determination Commission which is made up of representatives from the employees, employers and the government. Amid the rising trend of the inflation rate and still higher expectations for 2019, the TÜİK estimated the minimum subsistence level as 2 thousand 213 TL for hard labor status, 978 TL for medium level status and 841 TL for light labor status.

Another economic indicator announced last week was the Consumer Confidence Index. Given that the recession was mostly triggered by the shrinkage of the domestic demand, the December figures of the Index seem to reflect the troubled trend of the economy. TÜİK in cooperation with the Central Bank estimated the index to decrease 2.3 percent as compared to the previous month. The index has fallen from 59.6 in November to 58.2 in December.

Republican People’s Party (RPP), the main opposition party and the prominent competitor to the ruling JDP in major cities has finally announced its candidates for İstanbul and Ankara. RPP named Mansur Yavaş, former candidate who had lost with a narrow margin for Ankara and Ekrem İmamoğlu, currently the mayor of Beylikdüzü district of İstanbul for İstanbul. The JDP on the other hand had already announced its candidate for Ankara, former Kayseri mayor Mehmet Özhaseki. Jdp had also revealed that their candidate for İstanbul would most probably be current Parliamentary Speaker and the former and the last prime minister Binali Yıldırım. However, it has not been officially announced yet. The rumors point out Yıldırım’s reluctance to step down from prestigious position of Parliamentary Speaker and the governments attempts to find a resolution for Yıldırım that would allow him to keep the post itself or its honorary status.

The RPP has said to be preparing for other major cities in coordination with the Good Party. The candidates for İzmir, Bursa and Mersin were said to be announced by the early January, where the GP will not compete and support RPP’s candidate. In total the agreement between the two parties guarantees that the RPP will not announce candidates for Osmaniye, Nevşehir and Isparta while the GP will do the same for the 3ight major cities where the current mayors are from the RPP.

The summary proceedings being prepared against 68 MPs has ben said to be including charges regarding an old cartoon titled “Tayyips’ Universe” depicting the then prime minister Tayyip Erdoğan in different animalistic forms and had been subject to criminal investigation and judiciary process. This year the cartoon has also been used at METU’s graduation ceremony which ended up with the detention of the students who carried the banner.

The president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) Şebnem Korur Fincancı and former president of the Turkish Medical Association Gençay Gürsoy were sentenced to highest imprisonment (2 years and 6 months) among those who has been on trial for signing the peace petition regarding the civilian tragedy in Sur, Diyarbakır during the clashes between the PKK and armed forces in 2015 and 2016.

The US president Trump has announced that the Us will withdraw its troops from Syria. It is revealed that Trump had given this surprising decision at a meeting with president Erdoğan who has been claimed to ask why the US had still been keeping troops in Syria.

The development seems to upset the very fragile status quo in the region where a number of countries including Russia has close interests. The European leaders openly disclosed their disagreements with Trump’s decision.

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