In a strategic move aimed at securing votes ahead of Turkey’s closely contested election, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared a significant 45% pay increase for more than 700,000 public workers on Tuesday. This substantial raise will elevate the minimum monthly wage for affected workers to 15,000 Turkish lira (€700).
The timing of this announcement, just days before the election, highlights the importance of economic issues in the minds of the electorate. Just last month, he promised that households would receive up to 25 cubic meters of free natural gas per month for one year, beginning next month. This initiative is part of the government’s effort to showcase large-scale energy and infrastructure projects before the elections. In previous years, Erdoğan’s economic policies were hailed as successful, but they have since become a point of contention due to soaring inflation rates and a plummeting lira.
Addressing the nation in Ankara, Erdoğan stated, “As part of this collective bargaining agreement, we are implementing a 45% wage increase, incorporating the welfare share, effectively raising the minimum wage for public workers to 15,000 lira.” Furthermore, the president indicated that the government has plans to boost wages and pensions for civil servants as well.
The announcement sparked a heated debate on social media platforms such as Twitter, with some users expressing concern that public workers will now earn more than their counterparts in public engineering roles. Skepticism lingers over whether Erdoğan will adopt a more serious approach to tackling the rampant inflation plaguing the nation. The president’s unorthodox monetary policies, which include cutting interest rates amid escalating prices, have resulted in double-digit inflation, currency turmoil, and spiralling living costs that have left Turkish voters feeling disillusioned.
Inflation in Turkey reached a record-breaking 85.5% in October last year, while April’s figures hovered just below 44%. Erdoğan acknowledged the financial strain caused by the recent earthquakes in the southeast, stating, “Despite the burden of over $100 billion that the earthquake disaster placed on our economy, we will continue to take these measures. Thankfully, Turkey has now achieved the strength and capacity to handle such burdens.”
As the country gears up for the pivotal presidential and parliamentary elections, President Erdoğan faces a tight race against his main opposition rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.