Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once spoke of terrorist acts committed with a pen. Ahead of local elections, he has turned his attention to those committed with vegetables. “They’ve made aubergine, tomato, potato and cucumber prices increase,” he told a rally last month, referring to wholesalers suspected of hoarding. “They are spreading terror.”
Despite the government’s attempts to distract voters, the economy will weigh heavily on the minds of most Turks when they elect mayors and councillors on March 31st. Overall, Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (ak) party has done well in this area. Since 2002, when ak first came to power, the economy has expanded by an annual average of 5%. Millions of Turks have propelled themselves out of poverty. But the wave of credit that companies and consumers have been riding over the past decade, often with reckless abandon, has come crashing down. In one year the Turkish lira has plunged in value by about 30%, stoking the worst inflation since ak came to power. Interest-rate hikes have stymied growth. It is now officially in recession.