ANKARA, Turkey: As the Turkish lira fell by 15 percent against the U.S. dollar this week, anxious Turks struggled to keep pace with developments, and opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said the country was experiencing its darkest "catastrophe."
The depreciating lira follows weeks of steep declines in its value, which have already caused major price increases and have left ordinary Turks reconsidering all their spendings, from holiday plans to weekly groceries.
"There has not been such a catastrophe in the history of the Republic," said Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition Republican People's Party, who blamed the fall of the lira on President Tayyip Erdogan, calling him "a fundamental national security problem for the Republic of Turkey," as reported by the Kathimerini.
Erdogan, who has led Turkey since 2003, has pressured the country's central bank to cut interest rates, claiming this will boost exports, investments and jobs, but critics responded that a lowering of rates will further fuel double-digit inflation and cause the lira to lose even more value.
In the past week, the lira plunged as low as 13.45 to one U.S. dollar, compared to 8 lira to the dollar one year ago.
Former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a founding member of Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party, before breaking away to form his own party, described Erdogan's economic measures as "treason, and not ignorance," reported the Kathimerini.
After this week's fall, Kilicdaroglu, Davutoglu and other opposition leaders said they would convene emergency meetings to discuss the crisis.
On social media, the Turkish people expressed their dismay, with top trending topics on Twitter including, "We are sinking," "Government resign" and "We cannot make ends meet."
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that some Turks are converting their salaries or pensions into foreign currencies as soon as they received them.
"I have asked for an advance on my monthly salary, just to convert it into dollars so that I can maintain some sense of value in my earnings," said Istanbul lawyer Emirhan Metin, according to the Kathimerini.