Turkish Economy minister Nureddin Nebati

Nureddin Nebati, new Turkish economy minister after Elvan’s resignation

Nebati, favorable to Erdoğan’s management in economics, replaces Elvan, pressured by his criticism of the low interest rate policy.

Nureddin Nebati is as of today the new Turkish Economy Minister to replace Lütfi Elvan, who Turkish media reported on Thursday would have resigned, apparently after Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan publicly criticised Elvan’s position in favour of raising interest rates to contain escalating inflation and the decline in value of the Turkish lira.

The election of Nebati for the new post, ratified by presidential decree, has become official after the publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic, which only mentions that the Economy minister asked to be “exempted from the post”, and that his request was accepted.

Who is Nureddin Nebati?

Nebati, who will turn 58 on January 1, is a businessman born in Şanlıurfa (southeast Turkey) with a degree in political sciences from Istanbul University, a master’s degree in international relations from the same university, and a doctorate in political sciences and public administration by the University of Kocaeli. Married with four children, he speaks English and has some knowledge of Arabic (something common in his hometown).

For 3 years and until yesterday, he held the position of vice minister of economy of Turkey, being the number two of Elvan, whom he replaces as of today after his predecessor presented his resignation this morning. He was a member of the executive board of the conservative employers’ association MÜSİAD, where he still sits on the advisory council.

He was also a member of the disciplinary board of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the AKP party executive, and has been elected twice as a member of parliament: once for Istanbul, and once for his home province of Şanlıurfa.

Nebati had precisely praised, in a series of messages published on November 25 on his Twitter account, Erdoğan’s personal commitment to maintaining a low interest policy, despite the pressures of the markets and the consequences that said policy has for inflation in Turkey, which is around 20%. “This time, we are determined to implement it,” Nebati wrote on Twitter.

The problems of the resigned minister with Erdoğan

Just yesterday, after the Turkish president reiterated that “there is no going back” in the policy of keeping interest rates down, the Turkish Central Bank had to intervene for the first time in almost 8 years by selling part of its reserves in foreign currencies to stop the collapse of the lira, which today again lost 1.58% of its value against the dollar.

Lütfi Elvan, 58, was elected Turkey’s new economy minister just over a year ago to replace Erdoğan’s own son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, who resigned in November 2020 alleging health issues. Elvan, a former Deputy Minister, who had previously also held the positions of Minister of Development, and Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, had recently been openly critical of the policies of the Turkish president and AKP leader, Tayyip Erdoğan, on economy.

Critics of Elvan, inside and outside the AKP, however, point out that his attitude at the head of the ministry had been passive, not proposing solutions or effective measures to address the problems with inflation or the volatility of the lira. Elvan was in fact facing growing criticism within the AKP party itself, to which he has belonged for years and for which he has been a deputy up to four times.

Elvan criticised the “policefalia” in the Turkish government on economy

Many in the AKP accused him of being a man of Ahmet Davutoğlu, former prime minister and former foreign minister of Turkey, who in 2019 left the party (to found a new one) criticising the presidential system and the nationalist drift of the party of Erdoğan: Elvan was among those who openly regretted the departure of Davutoğlu.

Elvan, according to some Turkish media, would have also criticised what he considered a “policephaly” existing within the government when making decisions on economy, saying that he was not consulted in making certain decisions.

In any case, the election of Nureddin Nebati as the new Turkish economy minister after Elvan’s resignation, comes after Erdoğan himself implicitly criticised Elvan just a few days ago for opposing his low interest rate policy: criticisms that, without naming him directly, however increased the pressure on a minister who, for months, had a very compromised situation within the AKP and was already on the tightrope within the Turkish government.