Middle East

Turkish opposition calls for early election amid lira meltdown

ANKARA, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Turkish opposition leaders called for immediate early elections on Thursday after the lira plunged 6% to new lows following the central bank’s decision to cut interest rates amid pressure from President Tayyip Erdogan.

The lira saw its worst day since a 2018 currency crisis, tumbling to 11.3 versus the dollar and a low against the euro after the central bank decided on a rate cut seen as dangerous for the emerging market economy. It stood at 11.06 to the dollar at 1636 GMT.

“Stop Already, Erdogan! Election Immediately,” tweeted Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition CHP.

Iyi Party Chairwoman Meral Aksener said Erdogan had “ruined our money and our reputation”.

“If this is on purpose, it’s outright treason. However, if it is a result of incompetence, it is obvious what needs to be done: This disgrace must be stopped by taking the country to elections as soon as possible.” she said.

“Dollar 11 Lira” and “Election Immediately” were the top two trending topics on Twitter, as criticism against Erdogan mounted on social media.

“The depreciation of the lira means the government, which has not changed for 20 years and was elected by a majority of votes, has collapsed the economy,” said Mehmet Hasim Acanal, a 36-year-old farmer in Sanliurfa.

“The situation will deteriorate unless there is any positive government change. The probability of a positive change seems to be quite low.”

Elections are due no later than mid-2023. Opposition leaders have ramped up calls for early elections amid the economic woes, while Turks have cited economic mismanagement in opinion polls that show support for Erdogan, who has been in power for nearly 20 years, at multiyear lows.

Erdogan on Wednesday told lawmakers from his AK Party that he cannot walk alongside those defending interest rates and repeated his unorthodox view that high rates cause inflation. read more

Kilicdaroglu later told broadcaster Haberturk that Erdogan’s call for lower rates to boost exports and investments showed he was “completely detached from reality”, adding the public wanted early elections.

“Others make plans for 50-100 years and we cannot even tell what will happen tomorrow,” he said. “The government wants to go into elections after fixing the economy. That is a total figment of their imagination.”

Additional reporting and writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and

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