Main opposition leader says he won’t pay electricity bills until gov’t cancels price hikes

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Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on Wednesday said he wouldn’t pay his electricity bills until President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rolls back recently introduced increases in energy prices, according to a report by the Birgün daily.

Turks started 2022 with news of jacked-up prices, fueled by a currency crisis amid the highest rate of inflation in nearly two decades.

Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) announced on Jan. 1 that it had raised electricity prices by 52 percent for lower-demand households for the new year and 127 percent for high-demand commercial users.

Kılıçdaroğlu late on Wednesday tweeted a video calling on Erdoğan to cancel the increases in electricity prices, which he “undersigned personally on the night of December 31,” adding that he wouldn’t pay his electricity bills until Erdoğan does so.

“You did this [increased electricity prices], [that’s why] you’ll cancel them,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

As part of emergency measures that would help Turks financially in the short run, the CHP leader also urged Erdoğan to decrease the Value Added Tax (KDV) on electricity bills from 18 percent to 1 percent until summer.

Kılıçdaroğlu explained that the move would allow Turks to save nearly TL 50 ($3.6) of every TL 350 ($25.8) they have to pay on electricity bills.

The main opposition leader also called on citizens to post tweets addressed to President Erdoğan’s account @RTErdogan that would include a photo of their electricity bills and the International Bank Account Numbers (IBANs) of their bank accounts so that Erdoğan can pay their bills.

Referring to a national donation campaign launched by Erdoğan in March 2020 to assist vulnerable people suffering due to coronavirus measures, Kılıçdaroğlu also told citizens to post their tweets under the hashtag #Sırasende (It’s your turn) because it was Erdoğan’s turn to help them.

Following Kılıçdaroğlu’s call, a number of Turks posted tweets protesting high electricity bills under the hashtags #faturamıödemiyorum (I’m not paying my bill), #SıraSende (It’s your turn) and #IBAN, which became top trending topics in Turkey.

Thousands of people in eastern Ağrı province and Muğla in the west last week protested in the streets against the rising electricity prices they have faced since the beginning of the year.

The protesters said in a statement that there had been a two- to threefold increase in the electricity bills they received over the past month and that some of the merchants in the city had to pay electricity bills surpassing their monthly rent, demanding that the government roll back the price hikes.

The CHP also organized protests across the country on Wednesday, with the party’s local organizations urging the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to withdraw recent price hikes in press statements released simultaneously in all 81 provinces.

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