A district council member in Kayseri from the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) who recently resigned from the party was attacked by a mob minutes before appearing on a TV program on Friday and forced out of the studio, local media reported.
Earlier this week Sedat Kılınç, a member of the MHP’s Kocasinan district council, resigned after MHP Kayseri lawmaker Baki Ersoy was referred to the party’s central disciplinary board over criticism of Turkey’s record-high consumer prices, which rose to an annual rate of 61.14 percent in March.
Journalist Azmi Deniz, the host of the program on the Deniz Postası TV station in Kayseri on which Kılınç was to be a guest, later on Friday said in a report in the Deniz Postası daily that a group of 50 people stormed their studio, attacked Kılınç and him, forcing the former council member out of the building minutes before the program.
According to the report, the angry mob slightly injured Deniz and took Kılınç out of the studio, locking others from the Deniz Postası TV staff in the studio so as to prevent them from interfering.
Speaking to Halk TV while he was being treated in the hospital, Kılınç said he had been beaten by a large group of attackers who identified themselves as MHP members, initially in the studio and then outside the building and was warned by them not to do any more interviews to talk about his resignation.
“I handed in my resignation after Mr. Baki Ersoy’s referral to the disciplinary board, thinking it wasn’t right. That’s it. He was referred to the disciplinary board after one small criticism regarding the country’s financial situation. I was disturbed by that [and] I resigned [from the party],” Kılınç added.
According to Turkish media reports, Ersoy’s referral came after he said: “The [real] inflation rates are above the official figures. These increases are crippling this nation. That’s the truth.”
Selçuk Özdağ, a politician from Turkey’s opposition Gelecek (Future) Party, and journalists Orhan Uğurluoğlu and Levent Gültekin also faced similar assaults last year, all after criticizing former or current leaders of the far-right MHP.
A high cost of living has become the new normal in Turkey, where recent increases in food and utility prices are pushing up inflation, further crippling the purchasing power of citizens.
The weakening lira and the rising cost of living have become major sources of public discontent in Turkey as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is an ally of the MHP, faces an election next year.
In the last general election, held in June 2018, the AKP garnered a nationwide vote of 42.6 percent. However, public surveys have increasingly been showing the party’s public support to be slipping.
According to a survey conducted by İstanbul Economic Research in March, nearly 60 percent of Turks said their income was not sufficient to cover their expenses, with the figure including 40.7 percent of AKP voters.