IHSAN – Major reason of the 43 percent: It’s the poverty, stupid!

Major reason of the 43 percent: It’s the poverty, stupid! Despite Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan’s claim that 43 percent of the people have confirmed that his government is free of corruption, we all know that the local elections were not a referendum on a single question, i.e., ErdoIan’s corruption. People voted for ErdoIan’s party for all sorts of reasons, and similarly they did not vote for the opposition parties for a variety of reasons. You do not have to be a political scientist to know that people acted primarily out of economic concerns. Despite the fragility of the economy, they have not felt any problem in their pockets, so they did not see any reason to change the status quo in favor of opposition parties that have not convinced the voters that they will make the economy better. Having said this, we must also carefully analyze this economic dimension in more detail. There are about 50 million voters in Turkey. About 25 million of them are not part of the labor force. They are not seeking jobs. Most of them are housewives. About 3 million people are unemployed, meaning they are seeking jobs but cannot find one. About 3 million people are state employees. Around 12 million people are blue-collar workers. Half of these work for minimum wage, which is around $500 per month. One can hardly rent a flat in Istanbul for this amount. It is true that the GDP per capita is more than $11,000, but because of the cruel income distribution, the overwhelming majority of people can only get a fraction of this. Many of them can barely survive, and millions are living below the poverty line. On the other hand, as Today’s Zaman reported last week, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s response to a parliamentary question has shown that state assistance to the poor skyrocketed under the AKP administration in 2013. Today’s Zaman reported that the total government spending on social assistance programs between 2003 and 2012 was nearly TL 19 billion. Today’s Zaman indicated on April 24th that, “In 2013, however, social spending jumped by about TL 10 billion over the 2003-12 yearly average to TL 12.2 billion in a single year. Some 11,454 million low-income people received direct assistance from the government in 2013, according to data released by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy in June of 2013. The data shows a sharp increase in state assistance to the poor in the year preceding the elections. According to Ministry of Family and Social Policy data, around TL 3.6 billion was allocated to the Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundation (SY) between 2003 and 2012, or TL 400 million per year. The same data shows that TL 955 million was allocated to the SY in 2013. Similarly, state assistance distributed to widows also recorded a huge increase, from TL 371 million between 2003 and 2012, or TL 41 million per year, to TL 752 million in the year of 2013. The AKP government doled out cash and in-kind benefits worth TL 12.2 billion in 2013 alone this figure averaged around TL 2 billion per year from 2003-12. Cash and in-kind benefits include food, health care and heating assistance.”It seems that about 15 million people are being paid “salaries” by the state, and this does not include retired people and state employees. Moreover, as the opposition argues, many citizens and their families also depend on the AKP-administrated municipalities, because they owe their jobs to the AKP. If you take into account the fact that there about 20 million households in the country, you will see that the majority of the population has been taken hostage by the AKP government. Unless income distribution, unemployment and poverty are dealt with, or the opposition convinces people that it will pay the 15 million direct beneficiaries of government social assistance better, it seems that the AKP will continue to rule the country despite its increasing authoritarianism.

SOURCE: Todays Zaman

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