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Turks see high cost of living as country’s biggest problem: survey

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An overwhelming majority of Turks see the high cost of living as the country’s most serious problem, according to the results of a recent survey, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

The survey, conducted by the Gezici Research Center, May 28-29 on 1,570 people across 14 provinces, revealed that 74.8 percent of respondents think the high cost of living is the country’s biggest problem, followed by unemployment (43.2 percent), the pandemic (34.4 percent) and the lack of justice (32.7 percent).

The rising cost of living has become a significant source of public discontent as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan faces an election next year.

Turkey’s official annual rate of consumer price increases has edged above 70 percent.

But independent estimates by Turkish economists suggested the real figure could be substantially higher.

While 62.4 percent of respondents hold the economic policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) responsible for the difficulty to make ends meet, only 24.9 percent think it was “foreign powers” that led to a rise in prices, a claim frequently voiced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government.

Contrary to economic orthodoxy, Erdoğan is convinced that high interest rates fuel inflation rather than rein it in; hence, he opposes rate hikes by the country’s central bank.

The Turkish economy has gone into a tailspin since last year when Erdoğan — who is up for re-election next year — put pressure on the central bank to start slashing interest rates.

The lira has lost half its value against the dollar in the past year and has entered an accelerated slide in the past month despite indirect government interventions and other currency support measures.

The lira’s collapse has pushed up the cost of energy imports, and foreign investors are now turning away from the once-promising emerging market.

In comparison to the results of the similar surveys in the past when respondents would refer to acts of terrorism as the country’s most serious problem, only 13.8 percent of respondents now view it as such.

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