Sol columnist Özgür Şen writes on the relationship between the rich people of Turkey and the AKP government. The AKP, he argues, has been the winning political party in creating rich people in Turkish history. The bourgeoisie created by the AKP might seem powerful and unrivaled for now, but this situation would be broken down by a left whose power would be granted by the working people of Turkey.
AKP is the best in creating rich people
According to the data of 2018, there are 36 USD billionaires in Turkey. This number might not mean much. However, the fact that Turkey is now one of the most notable hubs of the USD billionaires alongside the UK, France, Sweden, and Italy, makes the number significant. Moreover, Turkey is ahead of Japan, one of the world’s largest economies, regarding the number of USD billionaires.
One should avoid jumping to a conclusion based on only one number. Nevertheless, Turkey is one of the most significant countries regarding its number of the rich given its economy and population. Despite the possible fall of the abovementioned number due to the freefall of TRY since last year, the general tendency of having remarkable numbers of the rich will not change.
The rich people of Turkey owe a lot to the AKP as a result of this bigger picture turning in their favor.
The AKP’s coming to the power is particularly important since Turkey had six USD billionaires prior to the AKP. During its 16 years of power, the AKP has created a remarkable number of rich persons.
Under the AKP government, the Turkish economy grew four times in size. The relations of distribution have acceleratingly deteriorated due to the economic slowdown that has begun in 2008. The outcome of the continuation of the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the rich in spite of the economic slowdown was obvious. The poor have become poorer, and the working classes have benefited less and less from economic growth. Such accumulation of wealth was to end inevitably with an economic crisis.
Turkey now faces an economic crisis due to the domination of the rich, not because of the actions of poor masses and the working classes.
So, did only ones who are close to the AKP benefit from such accumulation of wealth? The list of the rich does not explain everything but still gives an insight.
There are several names on the list who have become rich directly through the AKP’s efforts. However, the list covers a wider range of names. The list indeed demonstrates that the established families continued to uphold their place by accumulating wealth just as the AKP did. The owners of LC Waikiki and BİM are in the list. Tosyalı family, which has been responsible for the administration of the Wealth Fund (Varlık Fonu), is also on the list. Koç, Eczacıbaşı, Özyeğin, and Tara are also on the list and are still very rich.
There are a number of names who lost their wealth and power, but this was a known case for the past governments, too.
The AKP’s difference was related to the process of creation of the rich. The fact that the AKP has created more pro-government capitalist seems natural since it created the highest number of the rich in the course of Turkish history. For now, this wealth makes the AKP stronger at one hand and creates binding conditions, on the other.
The wealth has granted the AKP power since it has made domestic and international decisions in alliance with the strong bourgeoisie.
The wealth has paradoxically also granted the AKP the burden to obtain the consent of the masses for the unequal distribution of such wealth. The AKP now has to safeguard such role in order to uphold its power. On the one hand, the AKP has to enable the rich to get richer; on the other hand, it has to obtain the consent of the masses which get poorer. This is not an easy task considering the situation Turkey is in. What the AKP always did in relation to authoritarianism, Islamism, and nationalism, might not be enough.
The AKP might think that there is no obstacle regarding the safeguarding of the rule of the rich.
The AKP is indeed lucky since the power of the left-wing political opposition, whose power stems from the working classes and which seeks to achieve the demands of the working classes, seems to be weaker still against a party, whose power stems from the rich and who controls the country on behalf of the rich.
The rich persons supported by the AKP might be powerful. However, such luck does not mean anything in the face of the left-wing whose power will be granted by the working people of Turkey. The left-wing just has to become the voice of the working class.