The slump of the Turkish Lira by 15% on Tuesday against the US dollar left Turks struggling to keep up with the depreciation of the currency leaving the country in a state of darkest “catastrophe”.
The Lira’s meltdown on Tuesday, follows weeks of steep falls in the currency leaving ordinary Turks reconsidering everything ranging from weekly grocery shopping to holiday plans.
“There has not been such a catastrophe in the history of the Republic,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party, who laid the blame of the currency’s freefall on Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who has been at the helm since 2003.
“At this point, you are a fundamental national security problem for the Republic of Turkey,” said Kilicdaroglu.
While Erdogan has pressured Turkey’s central bank to slash interest rates, hoping that the move will boost exports, investment and jobs, critics however say it will further fuel the growth of double-digit inflation and erode the lira, steeply slashing Turkey’s earnings.
A year ago, the Lira traded at 8 to the dollar against today’s price of 13.45. Last month it was trading at 9 and last week it hit 10.
“I’ve become unable to work without following the dollar,” said 28-year-old advertising agency worker Selin. “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 described Erdogan’s economic measures as equivalent of “treason and not ignorance”.
Many Turks took to social media to express anguish with top trending topics on Twitter being “We are sinking”, “Government resign” and “We cannot make ends meet”.
“I have asked for an advance on my monthly salary just to convert it into dollars so that I can maintain some sense of value in my earnings,” said Emirhan Metin, 28, a lawyer in Istanbul. “It’s nearly impossible to focus or talk about anything else at this point.”
Haluk, a 36-year-old freelance film editor, said he was often paid with a lag of six to eight months. “So the contract I signed last month is worth 20% less today. Who knows how much it will be worth when I get paid six months from now?”
“There is also a psychological unhappiness, you see the country collapsing in front of your eyes. It impacts the morale and motivation of people,” said Doruk Akpek, CEO of a menstrual hygiene brand startup.