Turkey's AKP aimed to create rich class close to itself after 2007, prominent scholar says
Ezgi Başaran ISTANBUL
Şevket Pamuk, previously a professor of economic history at the London School of Economics, is currently teaching at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) aimed to create a rich class close to the government after 2007, at the expense of rational long-term economic decision-making, renowned economic historian Professor Şevket Pamuk has said.
“After 2007, the economic priority was given to the race for authority. The need to create a rich group that would support the government and the AKP, and thus provide more votes, always came first. It became more rational to think about the elections in two years rather than [make] long-term plans. Creating a rich class close to the party became one of the biggest aims,” said Pamuk.
Pamuk, previously a professor of economic history at the London School of Economics and currently teaching at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, said Turkey’s economic developments since the AKP came to power in 2002 could be divided into two broad periods.
While the AKP implemented the program after the 2001 economic crisis with care in the first five years of its rule and maintained the balance of income and expenses, the next eight years emphasized the creation of a sympathetic economic elite, Pamuk stated.
In order to achieve the latter objective, the AKP focused on construction rather than industry, especially after 2008. “The easiest and shortest path to create new riches goes through construction, not industry. But as industry’s share diminishes, the current account deficit, which we talk about as the leading economic problem today, also deepens,” the Boğaziçi professor said.
As part of this, the government focused on helping its sympathizers win project tenders and construction permits by repeatedly amending the laws, according to Pamuk, who published his latest book “Turkey’s 200-Year Economic History” earlier this year.
Industry’s share in the Turkish economy is currently at its lowest level in the last 40 years, Pamuk said, adding that this badly affects the country’s economy as production is necessary to improve both domestic and external balances. However, as this is a difficult and long-term job, this option was not opted for by the AKP, Pamuk claimed.