Istanbul, Turkey – Millions of Turkish voters vote Sunday for their elections in critical local elections, after a heated campaign dominated by discussions about the country's economy and security.
The elections pose a great challenge to the Turks President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AK) have said
against a background of high inflation and rising unemployment triggered by a major currency crisis last year Taha Akyol, a Turkish political analyst and columnist, is the "hardest" voice that Erdogan's party has faced since taking office in 2002.
"The party is trying to stop the discussion on actual economic issues," he said.
The Turkish economy has been hit hard since the Lira lost 40 percent of its value against the US dollar last year. The currency crisis, triggered in August after a bitter diplomatic dispute with Washington, expressed concern among investors about the independence of the central bank and highlighted concerns about economic performance.
|Erdogan addressed his followers on March 30 in Istanbul during a rally for the local elections [Murad Sezer/Reuters]|
The vote began in the Turkish cities in the east at 7:00 (GMT 05:00) and ends at 16: 00 clock (14:00 GMT). Citizens in Western cities will vote from 06:00 GMT to 15:00 GMT.
Surveys only take a few weeks after official statistics show that the Turkish economy slipped into the first recession of a decade in the last two quarters of 2018. Inflation and interest rates rose due to the collapse of the currency.
Inflation was just under 20 percent in February, while the central bank's main interest rate is currently at 24 percent.
As part of an initiative to combat rising inflation The Turkish government has set up these favorable stalls. pic.twitter.com/5zAIy2LvGC
– Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) March 30, 2019
The lira resumed its course on Thursday after liquidity returned to a major London stock market A previous decision was taken by the authorities to restrain them, with the aim of keeping the collapsing currency stable and thwarting traders who bet against the lira.
Erdogan has often blamed foreign powers and "speculators" for currency fluctuations and other economic problems in Turkey – a message he repeated this week.
"Attempts by a number of Western countries, notably the US, to pressure Ankara were behind the manipulation of the Turkish currency market in August 2018," Erdogan told reporters.
"We need to discipline the speculators in the market," he said in another address.
Erdogan's AK Party has joined the electoral race with the control of Turkish cities wi In the last two polls, she was the ally of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) under the People's Alliance.
The block's biggest competitor is the National Alliance formed by the center-left opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Right Party of Good (IYI).
Both blocks have deployed dozens of common candidates in the provinces, districts and cities of the country.
The pro-Kurdish People's Party Democratic Party (HDP), the fifth The party represented in parliament has not nominated mayors for the six largest Turkish provinces of Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bursa, Antalya and Adana and has decided to nominate candidates supporting the Erdogan Alliance.
In recent years, HDP has seen dozens of its mayors were removed due to "terrorist attacks" that were introduced after a failed coup in 2016, because of "terrorist attacks" and replaced by trustees. The emergency measure ended in July 2018.
The advance to S The Popular Alliance has attempted to link the surveys before unday with internal and external risks that threaten the country's security.
The leaders of the bloc have accused the parties of the National Alliance of cooperating with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been demanding autonomy for the Turkish state for more than 30 years.
Erdogan himself has cited the fact that the pro-Kurdish HDP does not compete in major cities, but supports its opponents as evidence of this cooperation. 19659004] "They are not talking about the dirty negotiations in order to transfer the PKK extensions to the municipalities via the Candidate List [of the Nation Alliance]," Erdogan said in a recent rally.
The government argues that the HDP organic compounds to the US have PKK, an allegation that was rejected by the political party.
Regardless, the parties that make up the Nation Alliance have repeatedly denied allegations that they are cooperating with the HDP.
Galip Dala y, a visiting lecturer at the University of Oxford, said Erdogan's block used "high-level nationalist rhetoric" with the security of the state during the election campaign.
"They have used the concept of terror and terrorism very generously in almost all areas of politics – they combine fundamental issues with terror and security," said Dalay, who is also a non-resident employee of Brooking's institution in Doha Al Jazeera.
"The bloc also linked Turkey's economic situation and other issues that plague the country through internal and external actors," he said.
The opposition alliance focused its campaign on the economic situation and its impact on citizens.
It also used Turkish flags in their campaigns instead of party banners to obviously attract voters from various backgrounds.
CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu accused the AK party of chronic economic mismanagement y and Erdogan for the amazing unemployment, the high cost of living and the lira weakening.
"There are serious problems, but they do not explain how they will tackle these issues," Kilicdaroglu told supporters earlier this week. He argued that the Popular Alliance raised artificial security issues to distract voters from real issues.
"What is the work of a mayor or? A councilman who referred to the security of the state or threats against Turkey?" He asked.
According to Dalay, the Nation Alliance has pursued an inconspicuous strategy without the political identities of the CHP and the IYI party – the parties that make up the bloc.
"Instead of presenting identities of the two parties, they focus on their candidates and the issues that average citizens are experiencing as a result of the economic crisis," Dalay said.
"They are trying to raise real issues that Turkey is currently facing to attract inflation and unemployment," he said.
Follow Umut Uras on Twitter @Um_Uras