A coup attempting to overthrow a democratically elected government can never be excused. However, many coups staged or attempted in world history have sought justification or legitimization. Poor economic conditions are listed as one of the justifications to legitimize a coup. The military coup staged in Turkey in 1980 is an example of this. Many academics asserted that the worsening economic conditions during the late 1970s made it easier to stage a coup.
The July 15 coup attempt did not have any social, political or economic grounds – once again this reveals the coup plotters clearly had an eclipse of reason.
The Turkish economy has been growing for 26 quarters without an interval since the aftermath of the global crisis in 2009. While many developed countries’ growth rate is in a negative or steady state in the current period, Turkey’s performance in this respect is impressive and noteworthy. In particular, the high growth figures achieved in the latest quarters offer the best answer to those arguing that an economic crisis was impending in Turkey.
While austerity policies implemented in various developed countries embitter people and make them pour into the streets, (for instance in France and Greece), the Turkish government seeks to utilize public facilities to the utmost degree by announcing new economic packages which aim to increase the welfare level of citizens. In Turkey, new mega projects are launched almost every month. New airports, bridges and metros are improving people’s life standards at a quick pace. The cooperation between the state and private sectors in mega projects is offered as an example by various international institutions to many countries.
Unlike the countries in which the rights of pensioners and workers are taken away, the government in Turkey exerts the utmost effort to improve the conditions of fixed income employees. With the economic reforms made as of 2002, a considerable part of Turkish companies, from SMEs to large-scale corporations, have increased four or five times in value. All these factors demonstrate that within the last 15 years, Turkey has made a major and comprehensive move of growth encompassing citizens from all segments of society.
The Feb. 28 memorandum also undermined the economy
The points I listed above are only a few of the economic acquisitions citizens have obtained after 2002. Within this period, our people have obtained various social, political and economic rights. All these rights have been granted during the single party governments elected by popular will. Attempting a coup, which is surely an outdated action, causes damage to the economy as well as to democracy. We experienced the most recent example of this during and in the aftermath of the Feb. 28, 1997 memorandum. Bank siphoning cases and corruption caused billions of dollars of damage to citizens. The aftereffects of Feb. 28 culminated in one of the biggest crises of Republican history. Each coup in Turkey drew the country at least a decade back in terms of the economy.
In coup atmospheres, where uncertainties and crackdowns are on the highest level, neither economy nor state institutions can function properly. The private sector is also inevitably undermined in such an atmosphere. So, both investments and consumption expenses remain far below their potential levels.
Another noteworthy aspect observed after the coup attempt is that no serious problem arose in economic indicators. After the news about the coup attempt was released, the dollar/TL rate tested the level of 3.05. But as the signals indicated that the attempt had failed and the state institutions were operating smoothly, the rate dropped below 3 TL again. With the proper measures taken by the relevant economic institutions including the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (TCMB) and the Banking Supervisory and Regulatory Authority (BDDK), the crisis was overcome without a serious fluctuation in the financial markets. This situation also indicates that the Turkish economy has been enjoying a solid structure thanks to the measures taken since 2000/2001 crisis. Ravaged even by a minor political disturbance in 2001 when a book of the Constitution was thrown in Parliament, the Turkish economy has covered a long distance since then. There is a significant difference between the situation of the Turkish economy in 2001 and the current stable economy.
The Central Bank takes the plunge
The TCMB also took the plunge by cutting the upper band of the interest rate corridor 25 points in this process. In the past, we have witnessed the TCMB decision to hike interest rates in periods of political turbulence many times. The rate and stock index did not respond negatively despite the decision of interest rate cut, which constitutes an important message to relevant markets, underlining the stability of Turkish economy. The most fundamental necessity for Turkey’s growth is democratic order. An atmosphere of chaos and uncertainty created by a coup has high economic costs. The Turkish people have paid a heavy price for the past coups. Our citizens have not obtained their social, political and economic rights easily. They have fought for their rights. On the night of July 15 and the dawn of July 16, those assuming that our citizens would easily give up their rights were proven wrong.