At TurkiyeRaporu.com, we recently sought to take a break from politics and devle into the people’s real agenda and what drive their fears.

Last week, the Anatolian town of Elazığ and neighboring districts suffered severely from an 6.8-magnitude earthquake that claimed 39 lives. Turkish citizens, while polarized on many matters including the financial aspects of recovering from the disaster, united over the sorrow. The successive lower impact earthquake news, additionally, rekindled the worries of the people, especially those of the 16 million living in Istanbul, where a “great Istanbul earthquake” is said to be inevitable.

Other popular topics included the Corona virus epidemic, natural gas prices and the dispute over Idlib with Russia. Hence, it is an understatement to say that Turkish people are worried. Worried over diseases, worried over economics or even over the prospect of war. For some people, the expectation of an earthquake is the least of their worries. At this point, one might wonder: “What worries Turkish people the most?” 

“Between 1 and 5 to what extent do the following worry you? (1-Not worrying at all, 5- Very worrying)”

On Jan. 19, before the devastating earthquake struck, we conducted a poll at turkiyeraporu.com that sought an answer to this very question. The participants were asked to rate several sources of worry from 1 to 5, 5 being the most worrying. The results showed that “me or my family being attacked on the street” is considered as the most worrying option. Given the past month’s turn of events, this result may come as a shock to the uninformed reader. Yet many assaults have been perpetrated in the past year, especially against women.

In 2019, men killed 411 women in Turkey in what was the highest number that has ever been recorded. Thus, it is no surprise that women were more worried about being attacked, giving it a rate of 4.43 out of 5. What is more interesting is that even though a much lower rating of 3.91 was given, men were also worried the most about them or their families being attacked. In general, women tended to give higher points to this option, and that was also the case for the elderly.

The second most worrying topics varied across genders. While women were more worried about the specter of war, men had more economic concerns. With the historically established gender role of men as the head of household in Turkey, the difference isn’t surprising. Overall, earthquakes were the second-most feared subject according to the poll. Though I think it is safe to say it have been the first following last week’s events.

Climate change was ranked as the fourth out of seven subjects. Compared to the results of Chapmans University’s 2018 study in US, it is apparent that Americans and Turkish people differ with regards to environmental concerns. Five of the top ten subjects that Americans feared the most were related to climate issues. Another study the Levada-Center conducted in 2019, with a similar method to ours, showed that Russians also differed from both countries. Matters of health and politics were considered the most worrying by them, while environmental issues weren’t mentioned at all.

In sum, while Turkish politics and the economy might be labeled as worrying, Turkish people value their families’ and their own security the most. With the current agenda, the priority of the people is “being alive’” rather than leading a healthy life.