Massive brawl breaks out in Turkey’s parliament during debate | The Express Tribune


Turkish parliament has been gripped by shouting, insults and brawling this week as lawmakers have debated budgets and policy while the economy reels from a currency crash and inflation spiral.

An intense budget debate late Wednesday between Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and an opposition lawmaker escalated into fisticuffs involving dozens of members pushing and pulling at each other in the chamber.

Erkan Aydin, a main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy, asked Soylu why he used a plane belonging to a businessman accused of money laundering. Aydin produced a picture purporting to show the minister on the plane.

“You’re lying! You are a liar!” Soylu responded, triggering the scuffles between CHP and ruling AK Party (AKP) lawmakers.

The turmoil in parliament reflected strains on the streets where many Turks have struggled to buy enough food and medicines, and saw their budgets upended, after the lira tumbled some 30% last month and inflation soared above 21%. 

A series of aggressive interest rate cuts sparked the market crash. Despite widespread criticism, President Tayyip Erdogan has backed the policy as part of a new economic program that he says stresses exports, credit and economic growth.

Tensions also flared in parliament on Monday when AKP lawmakers interrupted and insulted CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu over his criticism of the government’s economic management, and his use of what looked like a hand gesture considered obscene.

Kilicdaroglu said the government put European and U.S. inflation “on the backs” of Turks with its burdensome economic policy. In response, the AKP called for punitive measures against Kilicdaroglu as part of parliamentary regulations.

Erdogan later said his opponent’s gesture was rude.

“We leave it to our nation to evaluate what those who lose themselves to such a degree even by dreaming of power will bring to the head of the country,” Erdogan said.

Brawls have hit Turkey’s parliament in past debates over budgets.

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