Various data gathered from recent studies point to a decline in Istanbul’s quality of life, which has made the city uninhabitable in 25 years of Islamist party rule, reported left-wing newspaper Birgün.
Istanbul has had mayors from the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) tradition for the last 25 years, since now-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s term starting in 1994, and the party has boasted good local government and municipalities. However, data from various studies paints a different picture, Birgün said.
In the INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, Istanbul ranked second worst among over 200 cities in 38 countries, with citizens spending 157 hours (~6.5 days) a year in congestion.
Turkey’s financial hub came in 130th place in the Mercer Quality of Living Rankings in 2019, with a slight improvement from the previous year (134th place) due to “a lack of terrorist incidents over the last twelve months”. Vienna topped the list for the 10th year running, among the 231 cities evaluated in total.
A total of 1,911 articles included the words “Istanbul” and “stress” in 2018, according to media monitoring company PRNet, which listed Istanbul as the 30th most stressful city in the world in their report based on 146 countries. The causes of stress were skyrocketing property prices and rents, the extreme traffic in the city, and a general rise in cost of living.
The Worldwide Cost of Living Survey from The Economist Intelligence Unit said Istanbul, ranked 120th, is a city that is cheap for tourists, and expensive for locals as the relatively low placement compared to the previous year’s rank of 44th place, is due to fluctuations in exchange rates caused by the rapid fall in the lira’s value.
The megacity ranked 34th among 44 cities in the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Global Power City Index. The report listed Istanbul as 35th in the livability category, which includes factors like cost of living, ease of living, security and safety. The worst ranking was in the environment category, where Istanbul came in 40th.
Similarly, Istanbul came last for green space in the World Cities Culture Forum’s report, with 5.98 square meters of green space per capita, including curb-sides, cemeteries and boulevards, and a total of 2.2 per cent green space in the city.
Istanbul is ranked the “tallest” city in Europe and the 24th highest in the world according to the Skyline Ranking prepared by the Hamburg-based real estate data mining company Emporis. The report assigns a point for every floor in high rise buildings in cities to calculate the rankings. Istanbul currently has 12,810 points, compared to Hong Kong’s 147,901 points in first place. At least 117 skyscrapers were built in Istanbul during the AKP municipalities since 1994, when the city had only 4, according to Birgün.
The city was cited as 7th most likely city to run out of drinking water in a BBC study. 55 per cent of Istanbul’s annual need for fresh water (one billion cubic meters) comes from the Melen Stream in the nearby city of Düzce and 15 per cent from the Kazandere and Pabuçdere dams in the European Thrace region. Experts call for an urgent stop to development in drainage basins to maintain Istanbul’s dwindling fresh water supplies.
Around 500,000 people lost their jobs in Istanbul in the last year, according to Turkish Statistical Institute’s (TUIK) data interpreted by Dr. Ergün Demir and Dr. Güray Kılıç. Some 2.5 million people out of Istanbul’s 16 million residents live in poverty, and 1,101,573 citizens are registered as not part of the workforce or individuals over the age of 18 who are not students and have no social security or regular income in the city.