Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said having a refrigerator at home is a sign of prosperity, triggering a new political polemic ahead of the June 24 elections.
During his electoral rally in the western province of Sakarya on June 5, Erdoğan compared figures from the start of his Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) rule in 2002 to today.
“In 2002, 91,000 cars were sold, while 723,000 cars were sold last year. Some 1,088,000 refrigerators were sold back then and 3,107,000 were sold last year. It means that there are no poor people… if there is a refrigerator in every house, then we are on a certain level of prosperity,” he said.
Erdoğan’s words triggered an avalanche of reactions on social media, with his critics arguing that almost every house in Turkey has had a refrigerator for several decades.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce also criticized Erdoğan for his remarks.
“Erdoğan’s latest speech shows that he has distanced himself so much from the people in the street. Were we keeping our food in tree hollows before you, Erdoğan?” İnce said at an election rally in the Aegean province of Aydın on June 5.
“He thinks even a refrigerator is a luxury for this nation but he himself drinks ‘white tea’ which costs 4,500 Turkish Liras [$975]. Our citizens have had refrigerators in their houses for the past 40 years but Erdoğan emptied them recently,” he added.