The person Kılıçdaroğlu described is an independent and popular personality, capable of challenging Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This electoral strategy has naturally monopolized the columns, and no attention has been paid to Kılıçdaroğlu's answers to Finkel's questions regarding the CHP's approach to the economy.
Now, these answers deserve careful analysis, since the performance of the CHP in the next elections will depend heavily on the credibility of its economic policy.
Let me state at the outset, it is my sincere opinion that Kılıçdaroğlu's comments about the economic performance of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) reveal the CHP's lack of understanding as to how the ruling party managed to increase its voter support from 34 to 46 percent in 2007, and further to 50 percent in 2011. As long as the CHP is unable to comprehend the reasons for this increase in popular support, it will be unable to formulate a consistent economic policy. Without such a policy, it cannot convince floating voters of its capacity to secure
In the interview, Finkel pointed out the 8 to 9 percent economic growth over the past two years, and asked how Kılıçdaroğlu saw fit to challenge the economic policy of the ruling party. Kılıçdaroğlu responded that the average growth rate for
If Kılıçdaroğlu's argument was that
Finkel was unsatisfied with this answer, asking, “According to you, how has the AK Party succeeded in increasing its electoral support from 34 percent to 49 percent?” The CHP leader began to state that there is no internal democracy in the AK Party, while it flourishes in the CHP. “But,” Finkel insisted, “how have they increased their votes?” Kılıçdaroğlu's answer is so absurd that it would not be out of place in an Ionesco play. This fact, he said, is yet to be sociologically analyzed, and further, the AK Party promised a new prison in
To my mind there is no mystery in the AK Party's success. Rapid economic growth, with some interruption during the most recent economic crisis, helped to decrease poverty and lessen financial inequality by increasing wage employment and per capita income. An implicit proof of this assertion is that the AK Party lost 8 percentage points, going from 46 percent to 38 percent, in the March 2009 local elections, a time when unemployment was at its peak and gross domestic product at its lowest.
To convince the public that they are capable of implementing a successful economic policy, the CHP must first recognize the realities of the current situation. As I have always argued in this column, given the limitations of domestic demand-led growth, the Turkish economy risks becoming trapped in low growth if the government fails to implement productivity and cost-reducing reforms.
The CHP should think seriously about these issues. The only policy suggestions emerging from the Kılıçdaroğlu interview concern decreasing income tax on the minimum wage to 1 percent, and the necessity of improving education in order to produce high value-added goods for export. I do not know if Kılıçdaroğlu is aware of the consequences of a tax rate decrease at the bottom of the rate structure. Decreasing income tax rates is rather a neoliberal policy, and