Traders desperate for end to political uncertainty in Turkey

Unsettled political landscape effects small business owners in Antalya, Turkey, days left to hit polls, election campaigns are intensifying

Photo by: TRT WORLD
Photo by: TRT WORLD

Updated Oct 28, 2015

Sitting in the sunshine at one of Antalya's seafront cafés you could be forgiven for forgetting that a fiercely contested election campaign is underway in Turkey. The frenzy of that campaign feels far removed from this picturesque tourist destination. 

But look closely at the people running the small businesses along the coast and you can sense their anxiety. 

This election matters to them - their livelihoods are suffering and they want the politicians to act. 

Deterred by the global downturn and bomb attacks in Turkey the tourists are staying away. Three hundred thousand fewer have visited this year than did in 2014. Visitor numbers are substantially lower than in previous years. 

"Cheaper than chips!" cries out Yilmaz Aytac to the handful of foreigners walking past his store, hoping humour will entice them inside. He's been selling tea and Turkish Delight here since he was twelve years old but business has never has been as bad as this. 

"I have to pay over 50,000 lira a year in rent" he tells me. "How much money am I going to make if no one comes here? In the last 6 months I've lost 100,000 lira.” 

The empty tables at the restaurant next door tell a similar story. The manager, Zeki Yilmas, looks forlorn. He believes the current political uncertainty in the country has contributed to the economic problems.

"Inflation used to be in single figures. Everything was fine" he says. "You could invest. It was possible to buy things. You could trust the economy. Since the election of seventh of june all the gains have gone.”

Understandably, there are disagreements about which party will best serve their interests. However, the business community here, as indeed it is across Turkey, is united in hoping that the election will be followed by a return to political stability.

Author: Jon Brain