Budget Debate 'Insult' Sparks Fistfight in Turkish Parliament

Budget Debate 'Insult' Sparks Fistfight in Turkish Parliament

A brawl broke out inside Turkey’s parliament this week after members of opposing political parties hurled insults at one another during a budget debate and the spat escalated into a melee, the Middle East Monitor reported Friday.

The incident took place on December 8 after Erkan Aydın, a deputy of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) asked a pointed question of Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who belongs to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Meclis'te Soylu ile CHP'li vekiller arasında gerginlik: Ortalık karıştı, AKP'li vekiller CHP'li vekillere saldırdı

CHP'li vekiller Meclis'te Soylu'ya Sezgin Baran Korkmaz'ın uçağını kullandığı için tepki gösterince Soylu 'hesap vereceksiniz' diyerek vekilleri tehdit etti. pic.twitter.com/f5Lz0VGySB

— Yol TV (@YolTV) December 8, 2021

“Recordings of the debate show Aydin asking Soylu about his association to a Turkish businessman who is currently jailed in Austria and facing charges of bribery, fraud, and money laundering,” according to the Middle East Monitor.

“Why did you get on the plane of Sezgin Baran Korkmaz?” he asked Soylu.

Aydin then held up a photo allegedly showing Soylu on the airplane in question.

“Your picture has been disclosed,” he said.

“You said there was no other plane. You would have told the President,” Aydin added, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Soylu angrily responded to Aydin’s accusations, dismissing them as lies.

“You’re lying! You are a liar!” he shouted at Aydin.

The fiery exchange sparked a scuffle on the parliament floor between CHP and AKP legislators.

“Last month, several brawls erupted during budget talks in parliament, mostly in those including Soylu,” Duvar, a Turkish news site recalled on December 8.

“Turkey’s parliament is no stranger to brawls, with almost all talks getting marred by fights,” Duvar acknowledged.

Wednesday’s scuffle between AKP and CHP lawmakers marked the second physical altercation in Turkey’s parliament this week, according to the Middle East Monitor.

“On Monday [December 6], 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,” according to the news site.

The Turkish parliament was discussing the 2022 budget of Turkey’s Industry and Technology Ministry and Turkey’s Interior Ministry prior to both conflicts on December 6 and December 8. A worsening currency crisis in Turkey has caused heightened tensions during recent parliamentary budget debates. The Turkish Lira lost about 45 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar in the past 12 months.  The currency devaluation has caused inflation in Turkey to surge to roughly 21 percent.

“Over recent years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spearheaded economic policy, quickly removing economic officials that oppose him,” according to the Middle East Monitor. “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.”

Experts warn President Erdoğan’s economic approach “carries significant risks and could prompt more serious financial instability,” the news site noted.

Gabrielle Reyes