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Nearly half of AKP voters find TurkStat’s inflation figures not credible: poll

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A recent survey conducted by the Ankara-based MetroPoll has shown that nearly half of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters think the figures released by the Inflation Research Group (ENAG), an independent group of academics and economists, reveal Turkey’s actual inflation rate, rather than those of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), local media reported on Friday.

As part of its survey titled “Turkey’s Pulse – June 2022,” MetroPoll asked participants “What is the annual inflation rate [in Turkey]?”, with the results published on Twitter on Friday.

According to the survey, 69 percent of respondents said it was 160 percent, the annual inflation figure announced by the ENAG for May, while only 23.9 percent said it was 74 percent, the inflation rate announced by TurkStat for the same period. The remaining 7.1 percent of respondents had no opinion.

Those who thought ENAG figures to be credible included 45.8 percent of AKP voters, in addition to 39.6 percent of supporters of its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP); 87.2 percent of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) voters; 84.5 percent of CHP ally the nationalist İYİ (Good) Party voters; and 83.5 percent of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) supporters.

Commenting on the results Timur Kuran, a professor of economics and political science at Duke University, tweeted, “Terrible news for Team Erdoğan: Only one-quarter of Turks find the regime’s inflation figure of 74 percent credible. More than two-thirds believe the 160 percent inflation estimate of ENAG, an independent organization. Even worse: A majority of Erdoğan’s base thinks his regime is lying.”

Meanwhile, retail prices in Turkey’s largest city and commercial hub of İstanbul rose 4.03 percent month-on-month in June for an annual increase of 94.2 percent, the city’s highest inflation rate in the past 24 years, according to data from the İstanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO).

Led by economics professor Veysel Ulusoy, ENAG has been calculating the inflation rate in Turkey since September 2020 and shares its figures, which are higher than the inflation rates reported by TurkStat, with the public.

TurkStat had earlier filed a criminal complaint against the group, accusing it of “purposefully defaming” the institution and “misguiding public opinion.”

TurkStat has been receiving growing criticism from opposition parties and government skeptics for not releasing accurate figures for important statistics such as inflation and unemployment, instead, presenting statistics that fail to reflect the market realities. The institute is accused of manipulating the numbers in order to mask the scale of the country’s economic deterioration.

In 2019 opposition parties submitted parliamentary questions to then-Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, over claims that TurkStat tweaked inflation data for political reasons, claims dismissed as groundless by the head of the institute.

Since April 2019 the head of the TurkStat has been replaced four times by Erdoğan, leading to claims that Erdoğan was not pleased with the TurkStat figures when they were higher than his expectations.

Over the past several years, Turkey has been suffering from backsliding in its economy, with high inflation and unemployment as well as a poor human rights record. Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing one-man rule in the country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.

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