Turkey raises public worker salaries by 45% days before elections

President Erdogan makes announcement as he seeks re-election and economic turmoil hurts his chances.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during a meeting of his ruling AK Party to announce the party's election manifesto ahead of the May 14 elections
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan puts economic promises at the centre of his ruling AK Party's campaign for presidential and parliamentary elections as he announces its election manifesto on April 11, 2023 [Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office/handout via Reuters]

The Turkish government is raising its workers’ salaries by 45 percent, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said, five days before Turks vote in presidential and parliamentary elections.

Polls show Erdogan in a tight race with the main opposition presidential candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Erdogan announced the pay rise on Tuesday at a meeting in Ankara that discussed the economic and social rights of public workers through a framework called the Public Collective Bargaining Agreement Framework Protocol.

“We are increasing wages by 45 percent, including the welfare share,” the president said, according to a statement on the government’s website. “Thus, we are raising the lowest public worker wage to TL15,000 [$768 per month].”

Erdogan added that he would continue to work on raising the wages and pensions of civil servants.

“In July, we have preparations based on the inflation difference and welfare share,” he said.

Turkey’s economy is a key issue heading into Sunday’s elections. Unorthodox interest rate cuts sought by Erdogan sparked a devaluation of the Turkish lira in late 2021 and sent inflation to a 24-year peak of 85.5 percent last year.

The country’s struggling economy, also reeling after the country’s devastating double earthquakes in February, has been a major blow to Erdogan’s campaign for re-election.

The president, who has led Turkey for 20 years, is campaigning on a promise of lowered interest rates as a way to tackle the economic crisis. He has also promised to slash inflation to single digits and boost economic growth.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies