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Turkey lawmakers brawl as tensions over budget escalate

December 10, 2021 at 1:35 pm

Turkey’s main opposition CHP party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu addresses a parliamentary session in Ankara on 6 December 2021 [ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images]

Fighting broke out in the Turkish Parliament late on Wednesday between members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Tensions flared during debates on the budgets of the Ministry of Industry and Technology and the Interior Ministry. While discussions were underway, an argument between Minister Suleyman Soylu and Erkan Aydin, a CHP deputy, quickly escalated into a brawl between lawmakers.

Recordings of the debate show Aydin asking Solyu about his association to a Turkish businessman who is currently jailed in Austria and facing charges of bribery, fraud and money laundering.

He asks, “Why did you get on the plane of Sezgin Baran Korkmaz? Your picture has been disclosed. You said there was no other plane. You would have told the President.”

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Solya responds, “You’re lying! You are a liar!” Following the argument, fighting breaks out between CHP and ruling AKP lawmakers.

It marks the second time this week where arguments have broken out in the Turkish Parliament where the behaviour of lawmakers has come under scrutiny. On Monday, ruling party deputies called on Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop to reprimand (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu for his use of an ‘offensive’ hand gesture during a speech.

Heightened tensions come as the country struggles to cope with a worsening currency crisis. Over the past year, the Turkish Lira has lost around 45 per cent of its value against the dollar, while inflation has reached around 21 per cent.

Over recent years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spearheaded economic policy, quickly removing economic officials that oppose him. Since mid-2019 three central bank governors have been removed after failing to support Erdogan’s low-interest rate proposals, a policy he believes will stimulate investment and growth.

However, economists have warned that Erdogan’s approach carries significant risks and could prompt more serious financial instability.