As you know Turkey held an earlyPresidential and parliamentary elections last June. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost 7 percentage points and could not get the majority in the parliament withoutthe support of the fascist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Erdogan was re-elected as president with the 52.5 percent of the vote. Thus, the new executive presidential system of government was in place earlier than planned because of deteriorating economic indicators, and the previously de facto one-man-rule has become official.
Implementing the new Constitution, Erdogan set up his cabinet without consulting the parliament and continued to rule the country with presidential decrees. The majority of his cabinet consists of capitalist businessmen, and he appointed his son-in-law, whois considered to be his “heir”, as the Minister for Finance and the Treasury.
Industrial production in Turkey began to slow down early this year and had a negative growth in the second quarter compared to the same period of the previous year. In almost all economic sectors turnovers shrank, with increasing stocks in the construction industry, which has so far been the driving force of the economy and the regime.
The “monetary”- foreign currency crisis which broke out in early August opened another wound. Turkish lira/US dollar parity rose from 3.75 in January to 6.54 in August, 100% increase in 7 months, 40% of which was within the last month. Lira has lost its value dramatically.
Official statements avoided making a connection between the rise of the value offoreign currency and the economic indicators, and blamed the “US economic war against Turkey” because of Turkey’s refusal to hand over an American pastor under arrest in Istanbul. By fuelling nationalism and manipulatingtheanti-imperialist sentiments of the people the regime is trying to put the burden of the crisis on to the working people.
Yet, it is a crisis of capitalism and is caused by over production. It is deteriorating due to the structural foreign-dependency of Turkish capitalism. The Erdogan-AKP government has been following a rentier economic policy based on borrowing and foreign currency flow, all being diverted to the pro-AKP businesses in the construction industry.
Previously, US Fed and European Central Banks implemented a low interest policy which led the “surplus capital” in the metropolitans to flow into high-profit countries such as Turkey. When the US and others increased their interest rates this flow was reduced. It has become harder for Turkey even to find foreign debt.
Together with big land owners the monopolies and the Erdogan-AKP government which is ruling the country on their behalf are now trying to take measures in order to put the burden of the crisis on to the working class and the labourers. The interest rates which were kept low were increased by 6.25% to 24%. The actual interest rates in the market are around 30-40%. New taxes are on the way and there are plans to stop the lump sum payments to workers when they retire or leave work. Public service budgets are tightened. The government said there will be no new investments. Annual inflation rate hit 24,52% in September based on the consumer price index (CPI), and an even higher 46,15% in producer price index, which will be reflected on the CPI with a much higher rate in the coming months.
On the workers front, they are still under the strong influence of the AKP, nationalism and religion, and their expectations from Erdogan are still high, but there are signs of a tendency to fight. For instance, the construction workers of the third airport in Istanbul demonstrated last September for better working conditions but this was met with harsh reaction from capital and the government, leading to physical attacks and the detention and arrest of hundreds of workers.Repression and arrests are going on. One of the strongest actions took place in the western city of Izmir. Members of two branches of the General Workers’ Union had a half-day strike and a demonstration with five thousand workers with the slogan “We will not Shoulder the Burden of the Crisis”.
At a time when the Erdogan-AKP government is trying to build a fascist dictatorship, it will not be surprising that all remnants of democratic rights will be gotten rid of under the conditions of an economic crisis to suppress the struggle of the working class.
Although it seemed that Erdogan came out of the elections with partial victory, he is aware of the fact that he could not renew his authority and trust among the people. With the crisis unfolding, there will be a more open and direct confrontation between the monopolies and Erdogan’s one-man governmenton the one side and the workers and labourers on the other.
With this in mind, our party is intensifying its exposure, agitation and propaganda work in accordance with its national organisational plan. The immediate goal of our enlightenment activity is to divert the discontent and the act of questioning among the workers and labourers caused by the crisis towards a united struggle around the main demands, i.e. an end to the dismissals of workers, better pay, cancellation of price rises in consumer goods, an end to the privileges given to the domestic and foreign monopolies, and the cancellation of state guarantees for their debts, etc.
To accompany these immediate demandswe come up with the following main slogans:
“We will not pay for the crisis;we want jobs, bread and freedom!”
“Against the monopolies and the one-man rule, let’s unite for a real People’s Power!”
Our party printed initially 200 thousand copies of a leaflet formulating all this and have them circulated in the localities, factories and workplaces together with thousands of other materials voicing more specific issues in those areas. In addition, a centrally produced propaganda booklet is reaching tens of thousands of workers and labourers.
We are also trying to bring together those combative forces in trade unions, though small in numbers at present, especially in the big cities, to achieve a joint action and resistance. Moreover, the conditions for spontaneous protests are ripening and we aim to utilise them effectively to strengthen the class consciousness and the tendency to join the class struggle within the working class and labourers.
The class struggle today makes more visible the historical fact that the working class is the most consistent class in terms of democracy and freedoms. Without the participation of the working class,a struggle for democracy goes as far as consolidation of the reactionary hegemony of the monopolist bourgeoisie which is trying to weaken democratic rights and freedoms at every opportunity.
As is known, the contradictions born out of capitalism are sharpeningin our country and across the world. This upsets the lives of all classes of bourgeois society except for a handful of financial oligarchs and monopolist bourgeoisie. Nevertheless, wherever the working class is disorganised and its struggle and revolutionary movement is weak, these contradictions generally lead to the advancement of nationalist, racist and fascist forces. Moreover, the liberal-reformist left and reactionary-nationalist bourgeois and petty bourgeois political currents can influence the working class.
The magnitude of the economic and social contradictions at present necessitates the broadest possible alliance of workers and labourers against financial oligarchy and monopolies, and the working class is faced with fulfilling this historical role at a time when it is relatively weak and disorganised. This is not an insurmountable impasse, but it requires the communist and workers parties to improve their skills to adopt tactics that are versatile and flexible but which will not lead to disorientation.
There is no doubt that unless the working class improves its unity, organisation, consciousness and movement, new social disasters will become inevitable. Therefore, the present task of communist and workers parties is very crucial. And our party is resolute in fulfilling this task no matter how harsh the present conditions are.
Labour Party (EMEP)