by instituDE, published on 24 April 2023


33 provinces not to have women MPs after elections

The Women's Platform for Equality reviewed the parties' finalized candidate lists and concluded that no women MPs would be elected in any of the 33 provinces. The MHP has the lowest percentage of women (4.00%), while the Green Left Party has the largest percentage (41.54%). The Good Party (11.36%), CHP (18.18%), and AKP (19.05%) come in after MHP.

The platform said the Parliament would once more be far from equal representation following the elections on May 14. The platform added that many parties placed very few of them on their finalized lists, and most were placed in unelectable ranks to raise the percentage of women on the lists artificially.

Kilicdaroglu's car convoy attacked during visits to earthquake-hit Adiyaman

The leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and presidential candidate of the Nation Alliance, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, cancelled his program in the earthquake-stricken Kahta district of Adiyaman after his car convoy was attacked on April 21. The attack did not physically harm Kilicdaroglu because his vehicle was behind the convoy. 

Kilicdaroglu had already been subjected to two attacks in the province before the incident occurred. First, a man who said Kilicdaroglu did not know Islamic prayers verbally attacked the CHP leader.

During his visit to a tomb, Kilicdaroglu's delegation was also attacked by another person. Police officers and CHP members were physically and verbally attacked by a mob that had gathered outside the tomb.

Opposition presidential candidate promises agricultural projects if elected

Republican People's Party (CHP) leader and the main opposition Nation Alliance presidential candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, revealed on April 22 that he would implement agricultural development projects if elected in the next elections.

Kilicdaroglu said they would use public farmlands to raise and nurture free livestock and seeds to be distributed to farmers. Additionally, he asserted to produce 3,750,000 cattle and 7.5 million baby cattle over five years and distribute them to the farmers free of charge. 

Kilicdaroglu also promised to establish special economic zones for agriculture and livestock in Afyon, Konya, and Erzurum provinces and to build ports for livestock and agricultural products in Ordu and Hatay provinces.

German press closely follows the elections in Turkey

As the May 14 elections approach, German media's interest in the elections in Turkey is increasing.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) claimed that after the earthquakes of February 6, Turkish President Erdogan might lose the election. Still, even if this happens, he may not give up his seat, and even the elections may be rigged.

A comment published in the Tagesspiegel newspaper noted that the government and the opposition follow a similar refugee policy and promise to send Syrian refugees home.

Welt am Sonntag newspaper stated that despite the rising cost of living and the government's failure to manage the post-earthquake period and rescue efforts, it is not sure that Erdogan would lose the election. The economy magazine Capital, on the contrary, argued that the other candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and high inflation might cause Erdogan to lose in the elections in May.

Finally, the German political-cultural magazine Cicero pointed out that Turks living in Germany mostly support Erdogan. The magazine stated while Turks vote for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany, they prefer to support the ruling party in Turkey that does not prioritize women's and minority rights.


Central bank requests lenders to limit dollar purchases to lessen pressure on local currency

Turkey's central bank has urged local lenders to restrict the amount of dollars they purchase on the interbank market to lessen pressure on the lira.

According to people who spoke anonymously, the central bank verbally notified several lenders last week that they have been assigned a daily limitation. The limits will determine how much foreign currency they can buy on the interbank market after meeting their needs through the KKM scheme.

KKM is a lira savings program backed by the government that compensates participants for fluctuations in the exchange rate.

As a result of daily limits and widening spreads, more companies and retail investors began to prefer exchange offices in Istanbul Grand Bazaar.

US Supreme Court grants Turkey's Halkbank another chance to avoid prosecution

On April 19, the US Supreme Court granted Turkey's state-owned lender Halkbank another opportunity to avoid prosecution in the United States for allegedly helping Iran evade American economic sanctions.

The justices overturned a lower court's decision to allow the prosecution to proceed in a 7-2 vote. The majority of the court directed the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan to re-evaluate Halkbank's request to dismiss the case. However, the Supreme Court rejected the bank's claim that it has immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which restricts American courts' jurisdiction over charges against foreign countries.

Erdogan inaugurates half-empty financial center, offers free natural gas before elections

On April 17, President Erdogan opened a 3.4-billion-dollar financial hub in Istanbul, claiming it would create a new financial ecosystem for Turkey. Erdogan said during the opening ceremony that the Istanbul Financial Center (IFC) would boost investments by facilitating international capital flows.

The IFC is a 1.5 million square meter office complex on Istanbul's Asian side that has been on the government's agenda since 2009. But the center having magnificent towers is half-empty. Some regulators and three state-run banks reluctantly moved to the hub. The Central Bank of Turkey is expected to move its headquarters from Ankara to Istanbul at a later stage.

On April 20, Erdogan launched Turkey's first natural gas delivery from a reserve found in the Black Sea to an onshore plant and pledged to provide households with up to 25 cubic meters of free gas per month for a year before the elections on May 14.

At the opening of an onshore natural gas port in the northern province of Zonguldak, Erdogan announced that production from Turkey's Black Sea gas reserves would start from 10 million cubic meters per day and increase to 40 million cubic meters per day over time.

Government budget deficit widens in March

The data from Finance Ministry showed Turkey's central government budget recorded a deficit of 47.22 billion lira in March. The cumulative deficit for 2023 also increased significantly to 250 billion lira, mainly due to the earthquakes that devastated southern Turkey in February. 

Earthquakes are estimated to cost the economy roughly 104 billion dollars. To lessen the impact of the earthquakes on the economy, the government postponed debt payments, provided wages and support money to earthquake victims, and made capital transfers to transform disaster-prone areas.

Interest rates in Turkey increase ahead of elections

Central bank data showed that rates on accounts designed to protect against lira depreciation have doubled to more than 20%, and deposit rates have increased by 10 percentage points to 29% over the past six months.

According to bankers, the overall rise in interest rates was triggered by rising expectations of a return to traditional economic policies and removing the interest rate cap in the government's plan to protect lira deposits from depreciation.

S&P: Global financing conditions put pressure on Turkish banking system

According to a report released on April 17 by the rating agency S&P Global, more restrictive global funding conditions are putting pressure on emerging market banking systems, including Turkey.

According to S&P analysts, Turkish banks are particularly vulnerable to negative market sentiment, cutbacks in global liquidity, and higher financing costs.

The agency also stated that lira depreciation affects Turkish businesses' creditworthiness.


Journalist under arrest over sharing and commenting on videos accusing government

On April 19, in the western province of Canakkale, a veteran Turkish journalist was detained for spreading fake information after publishing charges against the government.

Akinan is accused of sharing and commenting on videos posted on YouTube by Muhammed Yakut, a Kurdish organized crime figure in which he accused several members of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and their business allies of corruption and having extramarital affairs with women.

Yakut further claimed that several government members, including Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, had apartments in southwest London worth more than 2 million dollars. 

Turhan Comez, a former AKP lawmaker who now works as an adviser to Meral Aksener, the leader of the nationalist opposition Iyi Party, asserted that he had confirmed the charges through his lawyers in London but declined to provide further information.

Journalist Akinan was released with a judicial control measure on April 20. The journalist, who has been banned from leaving the country, will visit the nearest police station twice a week.


Biden administration notifies Congress of F-16 equipment sale to Turkey

On April 17, the US administration briefed Congress on a deal that could be worth up to 259 million dollars for Turkey to purchase avionics software updates for its current fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft. If approved formally, the deal would be the largest military sale to Turkey that Congress has authorized in years.

The deal is separate from Turkey's request in October 2021 for a $20 billion sale of new Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernization kits. The approval for the software updates would not mean that Congress has given the green light to the sale of F-16s.

Erdogan says Turkey ready to host ceasefire negotiations

President Erdogan discussed a potential ceasefire in separate phone calls with the leaders of the warring parties in Sudan on April 20.

At least 400 people were killed, and over 3,000 were injured in clashes between Abdel Fattah al-Burhan's army troops and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Erdogan said Turkey was ready to hold ceasefire negotiations and called on both sides to communicate to reach an agreement.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, the foreign minister of Turkey, added that negotiations for a ceasefire are ongoing with both sides involved in the conflict in Sudan.  

Cavusoglu urged Turkish nationals to stay safe until a ceasefire is reached and assured to bring Turkish citizens back to Turkey when the airspace is reopened.


"Syria's Kurds make their own pitch as Arab states court Assad" by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor

As Arab governments and Turkey seek to mend fences with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the country's Kurds have unveiled a new initiative to make peace with Damascus, saying that Western governments opposed to normalization should not stand in their way.

In a nine-point declaration made public on Tuesday, the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria (AANES) affirmed its commitment to Syria's territorial integrity and said that it was ready to "meet and hold dialogue with the Syrian government and all Syrian parties for consultations and discussions to provide initiatives to find a solution to the Syrian crisis. The document emphasized that "the solution to the Syrian crisis must be sought inside the country.

Russia has been driving the reconciliation, saying that only peace with Assad can spare them from further Turkish attacks. Assad and Russia want the Kurds to scotch their partnership with the United States. Turkey wants America to do the same.

Most strikingly perhaps, declaration says the AANES is ready to receive millions of internally displaced Syrians and many millions more unwanted by host governments in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. It's clear that the Syrian Kurds hope to lure Arab countries into diplomatic engagement by holding out the promise of relieving them of Syrian refugees.

"What does Turkey's Erdogan want with Israel?" by Sinan Ciddi, The Foundation for Defense of Democracies 

Following the recent escalation of violence in Israel, particularly at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey used a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi, to remark that "the Islamic world should be united against Israel's attacks in Palestine" and that "trampling on the Al-Aqsa Mosque is our red line."

At first glance, this stance by Erdogan is puzzling. After all, since 2022, he has sought to rebuild substantive ties with Israel.

On the surface, Erdogan sees a politically weakened Israel. The Israeli government is too focused on shoring up domestic stability to enter into a verbal back-and-forth with Erdogan. Erdogan needs every vote if he is to win reelection in May, and this rhetorical outburst is just that, an outburst that likely costs him nothing, especially with a largely silent Israeli response.

Erdogan's sole interest in restoring ties with Israel is part of his desire to ride the Jewish lobby in Washington so Congress will look more favorably upon Ankara and remove its strong objections to selling weapons. Unbeknownst to Erdogan, however, is that every policy wonk that follows this bilateral relationship in Washington sees right through Erdogan's intentions. So does Congress, and so does Israel.

"Turkey elections: Would Kilicdaroglu surrender Ankara's independence?" by David Hearst, Middle East Eye

Erdogan's removal would doubtless be greeted with the sound of champagne corks popping all the way from Berlin to Washington. That much is clear, but would his disappearance from the regional stage be good for Turkey, or indeed the Middle East?

Turkey has now got billions of dollars of investments from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Turkey made pragmatic choices, sometimes at the cost of jettisoning the very causes, like bringing the killers of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi to justice, that Erdogan himself had championed.

Russia will continue building the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant in Turkey, no matter which government is in power. On the other hand, kicking Qatar out of a tank factory, after it financed 49 percent of it, as the opposition has vowed to do, could frighten other foreign investors, which Turkey desperately needs. 

Even if we make an enormous assumption that the disparate and previously warring political parties that make up Turkey's Table of Six opposition coalition would hold together in government - and that is a big if - the one policy that unites them is a general retreat from the region and an outreach to the US, EU and NATO. But it is in the Middle East that regime change in Ankara would be felt most keenly.