Turkish party hands out fridges

ISTANBUL – Televisions, refrigerators, washing machines and even furniture: the authorities in the eastern Turkish province of Tunceli are handing them out generously to the poor this week. Social policy, they say. Opponents of the hand-out of free goods on the other hand see a connection with the upcoming local elections at the end of March. The Supreme Board of Elections has announced an investigation into the matter, it is reported in various Turkish newspapers on Tuesday.
Critics are mainly targeting the governing AKP party. The governor of the province in the east of the country, an AKP member, gave his approval for the ‘furniture for every household’ programme, which was organized by AKP-controlled local governments together with a charitable organisation.
It’s not the first time that the AKP has come under fire for generosity towards potential voters: earlier this winter the party was criticised for distributing large amounts of coal to the poor. Critics said it caused a lot of air pollution, and claimed it made recipients dependant on hand-outs, which they said had nothing to do with social policy.
True social policy, they argued, is about helping people to support themselves rather than making them dependant on the generosity of the government. The AKP in the meantime doesn’t seem too concerned by the criticism. According to the NTV TV station, so far 425 households have received household goods and furniture and the hand-outs continue.

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