The economic crisis of 2018, an opportunity and a test for the Turkish presidency

MARCH 2019

Turkey has been facing a major economic crisis since 2018, characterized by currency depreciation and very high inflation. International investors’ distrust of President Erdoğan’s economic policy, and the deterioration of diplomatic relations between Ankara and Washington, have pushed the Turkish economy into crisis while revealing its structural weaknesses: import dependency, private debt in foreign currency, and low levels of foreign direct investment in the country.

This study, conducted in 2019 when the crisis is far from over, aims to show how it represents both an opportunity and a test for President Erdoğan and the new regime in place. Indeed, it provides an opportunity to show a reorganization around the presidency of the economy, combined with a conversion of the Turkish regime to economic sovereignism. Secondly, it contributes to the transformation of the employers’ field in Turkey, by influencing the balance built during the AKP’s years of power with the TÜSİAD and MÜSİAD business’s organizations.

Finally, the political reaction to the crisis shows different ways of adaptation depending on the region, whether in Anatolia or in the Kurdish southeast, by relying on local entrepreneurial networks. While the economy still represents a pillar of the AKP’s popularity, it has today also become, more than ever, a political instrument to legitimize the new presidential regime.


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Nicolas Ressler-Fessy est docteur en géographie du Centre de recherches et d’analyses géopolitiques de l’université Paris 8 et chercheur associé à l’Institut français d’études anatoliennes à Istanbul. Ses recherches portent sur les relations entre champ patronal et champ politique en Turquie. Il travaille plus particulièrement sur les recompositions économiques et politiques dans les provinces kurdes du Sud-est du pays entre 2010 et 2018.