Turkish Lira plummeted by 15% against the USD on Tuesday, leading to the main opposition party leader describing the situation as the darkest “catastrophe” for the country.
The collapse comes after weeks of steep falls in the lira which have led to soaring prices, leaving ordinary Turks bewildered and reconsidering everything from their holiday plans to weekly grocery shopping.
The leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu blamed the currency freefall on President Tayyip Erdogan who has served as President since 2003, saying, “There has not been such a catastrophe in the history of the Republic. At this point, you are a fundamental national security problem for the Republic of Turkey”.
Erdogan has put pressure on the central bank to cut interest rates in an effort he says will boost exports, investment, and jobs, but which critics claim will further fuel double-digit inflation and erode the lira, cutting deeply into Turks’ earnings.
Shoppers at a major Ankara mall said that they were unable to take their eyes off the lira rate, which dropped as far as 13.45 against the dollar on Tuesday. Last year it was 8 against the dollar, last month it touched 9 and hit 10 last week.
Advertising agency worker Selin, 28 said, “I’ve become unable to work without following the dollar. I don’t think there is a single day where I don’t have to watch my budget, and the calculation changes 100 times by the time I get next month’s salary. There is nothing left, including toilet paper, that I buy without thinking carefully.”
Former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a founding member of Erdogan’s ruling AK Party before breaking away to form his own party, termed the president’s economic policies as “treason and not ignorance”.
Kilicdaroglu, Davutoglu and a few other opposition leaders have called emergency meetings to discuss the currency after Tuesday’s crash which marks the lira’s second-biggest fall ever.