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Erdoğan raises pensions in run-up to elections amid falling popularity

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced a TL 2,000 ($105) increase in pensions, bringing the lowest monthly pension to TL 7,500 ($393) as he tries to woo voters in what many say is the most challenging election of his political career.

The president made the announcement during an interview on NTV on Wednesday evening.

“We’ve completed our work on [pensions]. Let me give you the good news here today. We set the lowest pension at TL 7,500,” he said.

The last major adjustment to pensions was made in January, although Erdoğan said at the time that further changes could be made since the cost of living was skyrocketing, with inflation at more than 85 percent last year.

Erdoğan is seeking re-election on May 14, when both presidential and parliamentary elections will be held, with an increasing number of opinion surveys showing him falling behind his main rival, opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

The Turkish president is being held responsible for the country’s worst economic crisis of his time in power and a poor response to twin earthquakes that killed tens of thousands and left millions homeless in the country’s south last month.

In an attempt to help his diminishing popularity, Erdoğan in December announced the elimination of a mandatory retirement age, allowing more than 2 million Turkish workers to retire immediately.

The announcement was made after Erdoğan’s government delivered a hefty hike of 55 percent to the minimum wage, increasing it to TL 8,500 ($446) as part of a campaign to win back voter support eroded by inflation, a fall in the lira and a sharp drop in living standards. The minimum wage hike in December was the third such increase announced in 2022.

In two decades in power, Erdoğan has overseen a crackdown on dissent and in recent years adopted unorthodox economic policies that helped push the lira down to one-tenth of its value against the dollar a decade ago.

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