In a country that has more than 50 million registered voters, a single vote does not carry much influence. Yet voter turnout in Turkish elections remains over 80%. So why do Turkish people vote? In fact, fulfilling one’s duties as a citizen matters more than having an impact on the election results.
February 14 2020
In a country that has more than 50 million registered voters, a single vote does not carry much influence. Yet voter turnout in Turkish elections remains over 80%. So why do Turkish people vote? More importantly, what are the main determinants of voter behavior? In fact, fulfilling one’s duties as a citizen matters more than having an impact on the election results.
Turkey is one of the leading countries when it comes to voter turn-out. The 2018 general elections recorded a 88.2% participation rate while the 2019 municipality elections recorded a 84.4% level of participation. When compared with Western countries such as the United States or the United Kingdom that recorded voter turnouts of 55.7% and 67.1% for their latest general elections respectively, Turkey has the second greatest voter turnout following Belgium, which record a 88.4% turnout for its 2019 federal elections.
At TurkiyeRaporu.com, we asked respondents what was the main reason for them to vote. As 50.8% responded with “to fulfill my duty as a citizen”, having an influence on the result does not appear to matter much for Turkish citizens. On the other hand, 16.9% of the participants claimed that they vote to represent their views, which was followed by 16.1% that vote “to support their parties”. Less than 2% stated that they prefer not to vote. Hence, the proportion that did not vote in the past elections mostly consists of the people that wanted to vote but could not do so for one reason or another.
As for their main reason for voting, HDP voters exhibited a different perspective compared to other voters. While the most selected option was the same as the group as a whole, the percentage was much lower, that is 31.5%. What was even more significant was that one in every four HDP voter stated that he or she voted for his views to be represented. For other voters this was true for only 16%. Thus, the pursuit of being heard seems to affect the HDP voter base, which mostly consists of Kurdish people and youths.
A minority of 8.2% agreed to vote for the sole purpose of defeating the opponent party. The fact that this option was more commonly shared by the younger groups is concerning as it points to the permanence of the country’s polarization in future generations. Yet close to six million new voters from generation Z will vote in the upcoming elections. Their preferences, whether polarized as their predecessors’ or not, will deeply affect the outcome. I believe politicians that manage to connect with this new generation will have a higher chance of succeeding in the upcoming elections.
At this stage, it is also crucial to investigate the process of choosing the party to vote in the general elections. To understand the people’s tendencies, we put forward six different factors for choosing the party they vote for to the respondents, to rate between 1 to 5. With 4.38 points, the leader of the party they vote for turned out to be the most important factor. Only CHP voters differed from the other groups as they attributed the highest level of importance to the services provided by the mayors of the party they voted for. This is not surprising since the 2019 local elections led to the victory of CHP candidates at municipalities across the country, corresponding to almost half of the population. It is apparent that the actions of these mayors will be of utmost importance for the party’s future in parliament.
Other factors such as “being able to take seats in the parliament”, “ideology”, “being able to win” and “the candidates it presents” were also considered significant. However, we can conclude that the actions and statements of the party leader matter the most. In particular, the significance attributed to the other candidates of the party being the lowest, Turkish politics seem to be shaped by the actions of a few figures rather than by that of the crowds behind them.
Can Selçuki holds a MSc degree in Economics from University Bocconi. Before co-founding Istanbul Economy, a public opinion and big data firm, Can worked as an economist at the World Bank Ankara Office working both with the public and private partners in private sector development. His work at the World Bank focused on regional development, competition and innovation policies. Prior to working at the World Bank, Can worked as an economics researcher at the Brussels based think tank the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) for three years. He is the author of several papers and reports on trade competitiveness, regional development and innovation policy in Turkey. He is frequent commentator on Turkey and the region in print and visual media such as BBC World and FT and regularly writes on Turkish economy and politics in Turkish and international print such as Foreign Policy.
Even though the majority of the society did not conduct an earthquake test, 66.4% of society believes that their home is earthquake resistant. In fact, 43.7% of attendants stated that they believe their homes are earthquake resistant even though they never conducted an earthquake test. Statistics demonstrate that Turkey is not prepared for earthquakes at both an infrastructure and individual level.
Following a significant earthquake and amid a turbulent political conjuncture, Turkey's citizens are worried. Yet rather than politics or economics, people are mostly concerned about their individual security and that of their families.
Speculation regarding the potential of new parties are abound. According to our September 2019 polling across Turkey, the potential for the new parties that would be established by former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu and former economy chief Ali Babacan stood a little over 17% combined. This number in line with the 15-20% of the electorate who are looking for something new. We will have to wait and see whether the new parties will be able to realize this potential.
A nation-wide poll, conducted during the first week of January, showed that 58% of the population is against sending troops to Libya. A breakdown of the result according to party supporters is telling. The AKP base itself is opposed to it and a divergence prevails between the AKP and the MHP bases.
Turkey is now sending military support for the Government of National Accord (GNA) to aid in its fight against General Hafter. The potential benefit of this decision is too distanced from the public life. Particularly, if the mission turns into an operational one, it will be very difficult to explain to the public why we are indeed in Libya.
Turkey is locked into a single issue and it is not the new wave of Turkey bound refugees from Idlib. It is the mega Canal İstanbul project. However, public does not have adequate knowledge of the project according to a recent poll.
Finally, last week, former Prime Minister and chief of foreign policy, Ahmet Davutoğlu’s much anticipated Future Party was inaugurated. Analysts are rushing to deem his party’s chances slim. I see that there is a fundamental flaw in that analysis.
For a long time now, all our polling points to two main sources of dissatisfaction among the public. First is the economy. Second is the Syrian refugees and the Syria policy. Both are policy areas where Mr. Babacan and Mr. Davutoğlu were responsible for at the highest level of public office. It would have been much easier and strategically correct for President Erdoğan to link today’s woes to the wrong doings of the two during when they were in office.
Most recently, an event transpired likely to be seen in scenarios of an absurd comedy piece. With the “pro” votes of MHP and AK Party MPs, the bill postponing the requirement for filtration in thermal power plants, was approved in the parliament. The decision caused an uproar in the opposition ranks but also in a large section of society. Then, something quite unexpected happened; President Erdoğan vetoed the bill. The irony is of course, that the very same law that was tabled by Mr. Erdoğan’s AK Party was vetoed by President Mr. Erdoğan himself.
Last Tuesday, former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Ali Babacan for the first time appeared on national television as an opposition politician. Mr. Babacan did not object when the host of the talk show host suggested he appears as more of a “political organizer” than a “political leader”. It shows that his movement is not organized in the typical political hierarchy that voters are used to see.
A couple of months ago, when three HDP mayors were removed from office, I had predicted that this increased the chances of early elections in the fall of 2020. Looking at the economic sentiment of the house hold, it is safe to say chances for an early elections has slimmed since. Because, right now economy is the number one priority of the Turkish electorate and they are not happy.
According to a latest poll, President Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AK Party) appears to have lost 1.2 points of support whereas Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) increased its support by 3.1 points after Turkey's "Operation Peace Spring" in northern Syria.
In Turkey and across the world, the voting behavior of the young is changing. Turkey hosts close to 5 million citizens comprised between the ages of 14 and 17. By 2023, this entire group will vote, constituting close to 10% of the entire electorate.
Day-to-day events and inconsistent messages that have been coming from Turkey's traditional Western partners over the past decade have fostered negative sentiments. Yet the majority of the Turkish public values a long-term partnership with the West.
Murat Yetkin writes: I’m sure that, Erdoğan knows, as much as the judge who issued the decision to arrest Kavala, that meeting with Barkey, let alone having simply seen him on the spot like Kavala testifies, is not sufficient proof of being part of the July 15 military coup attempt. But it looks like the Kavala situation is becoming obsessional for Erdogan. Perhaps, in Erdogan’s eyes, Kavala is the embodiment of everything he stands against. Or maybe Erdogan wants to dissuade any non-governmental initiative that doesn’t thrive outside of his authority.
Luke Frostick writes: İşigüzel's "The Girl in the Tree" recounts the story of young woman who, in a moment of crisis and personal tragedy, flees from Cihangir to Gülhane Park, and spends the rest of her life atop trees. From her perch, she tells us her story and that of three generations of women living in Cihangir.
The Istanbul 35th Heavy Penal Court on Feb. 19 postponed the trial into 11 human rights defenders, including Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair Taner Kılıç and its former executive director İdil Eser, to April 3. "Both us and our organizations are being tried to be criminalize in this trial," Kılıç told the court.
The Greek delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly walked out of the session in Brussels on Feb. 19 after its criticism of Turkey was repeatedly interrupted by the body’s acting president. "The acting president systemically interrupted our speeches and questions and stopped us from presenting our views… We concluded the presentation and the delegation left in protest against the president's stance", they said.
A 14-day quarantine was lifted for Turkish citizens that were brought from Wuhan to Ankara with a cargo plane, Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Feb. 14. He added that no trace of the virus was detected in any of the patients that were placed under quarantine. Koca also said that Turkey is manufacturing coronavirus detection kits in accordance with World Health Organization standards and that some countries have already stated a demand for the kit.
Detention warrants were issued for more than 750 people over their suspected links to the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. Gülen movement, an ally-turned-foe of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), is widely believed to have been behind the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.
India summoned the Turkish ambassador on Feb. 17 to lodge a diplomatic protest over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks on the disputed region of Kashmir. India, which considers all of Kashmir an integral part of the country, told Turkish envoy Şakir Özkan Torunlar that Erdoğan's comments lacked any understanding of the history of the Kashmir dispute, the Indian foreign ministry said.
Turkey's population has increased by about 1.5 million and reached 83,154,997 citizens in 2019, the Turkish Statistical Institute said. While Istanbul remains the most populated city with over 15 million residents, the metropolis also has a population density of about 27 times the national average. The number of people per square kilometer is 108 nationally, whereas the same figure for Istanbul is 2,987.
Turkey's Competition Board has ultimately fined tech giant Google 98.3 million Turkish liras for violating the terms of fair competition due to unfair access to advertisement space. Last March, the board opened an investigation into claims that Google uses abusive tactics to quash its rivals.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking to ensure a humanitarian catastrophe does not befall northwest Syria's Idlib province, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Feb. 18, adding that Washington and Ankara are "working together" to determine what can be done amid a Syrian army offensive. A day later, Erdoğan said that a military operation in Idlib was a "matter of time."
Former AKP deputy Burhan Kuzu will be investigated over the release of Iranian drug lord Naji Sharifi Zindashti from prison. Recent reports showed that Kuzu called prosecutors and judges and told them that Zindashti’s release would be “more beneficial” for Turkish-Iranian relations. Kuzu denied the allegations against him in tweets earlier this week.
An Istanbul court has acquitted renowned novelist Aslı Erdoğan of the charge of membership of an armed "terror organization" for writing for pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem that has since been shut-down. The court also acquitted Erdoğan’s colleagues Bilge Aykut and Necmiye Alpay. The trial against other co-defendants, including human rights lawyer Eren Keskin, is to continue.
The German economy ministry said in its answer to a recent parliamentary question that the government has authorized arms exports to Turkey, Qatar, the UAE and Egypt worth 4.3 million euros during the period of Jan. 1 – Feb. 4. The Left Party’s ("Die Linke") MP Sevim Dağdelen has criticized Germany's move, saying: “Arms exports to countries involved in the Libya war should completely end.”
A Mardin court has acquitted veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk and Necla Yıldırım of charges that had previously led to their dismissal respectively as Mardin mayor and Mazıdağı district mayor. The investigations against Türk and Yıldırım were launched after they attended a funeral ceremony of a YPG member in 2015.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy leader Aykut Erdoğdu said that 8.6 people commit suicide on average everyday in Turkey mostly due to financial reasons. "The government is responsible if people commit suicide because their children are hungry or because they are unemployed," Erdoğdu said, as he accused the government of blessing death.
Ahmet Davutoğlu, the former prime minister who quit the ruling AKP to form the rival Future Party last year, has announced that he has withdrawn as a plaintiff from all criminal cases involving offenses against him, including the 2013 Gezi Park case. "The purpose of our chairman's decision is that everyone in society lets go of the past and faces the future," said a statement released by the Future Party on Feb. 17.
An Urla art house hosting photo exhibitions will be closed down as of the end of February, in line with a decision taken by the government-appointed trustee. The elected mayor of the district was removed from duty on Dec 18, 2019 over alleged links to the Gülen network.
A man who interrupted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's address to members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in parliament on Feb. 12 was detained the next day. "Dear Mr. President, I got laid off from my job for participating in July 15 [2016's coup attempt]. My kids are hungry. Help me!" he shouted, as Erdoğan continued his speech.
Several European politicians have welcomed an Istanbul court's ruling to acquit nine defendants in the 2013 Gezi Park case, with many of them taking the issue to Twitter. One said the court's ruling was "long overdue," while another referred to the decision as "the best news in a long time in Turkey." The verdict was also welcomed by the U.S. embassy in Ankara.
Turkey was ranked second, following South Korea, in the use of antibiotics among OECD countries. According to data from Turkey's Health Ministry, the number of daily antibiotics used per thousand people is 31 in Turkey, while the OECD average is 18.9.
The United Kingdom will prioritize signing a free trade agreement with Turkey by the end of 2020, Ambassador to Turkey Dominick Chilcott said at the fourth UK Technology Conference held in Istanbul on Feb. 17. London will use its newfound "freedom to maneuver" in trade to create free trade policies and free ports around the country, and will impose new tariffs to promote free trade.
The newly-formed Future Party (FP), established by former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, is currently polling at 3.9 percent, according to surveys conducted by the party. Only 15 percent of people polled said that they had heard of the party. According to party sources, the low figures are likely due to the fact that the party has received practically no coverage from mainstream newspapers and television channels.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been testing Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law, for leadership. Albayrak has been carrying out visits across Turkey as part of the test, a source following the AKP closely told Duvar, while an analyst said that Erdoğan may hand AKP leadership over to his son-in-law since he trusts the minister.
An Istanbul prosecutor has presented his final sentencing opinion regarding the case of Deniz Yücel, demanding a prison sentence of up to 15 years and three months in jail for the journalist. Yücel was jailed in Turkey from February 2017 to February 2018. After his release, he returned back to Germany.
Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin who grew up in Ankara was named the richest person in Russia by Forbes Magazine. Often dubbed "the Oligarch from Ankara" for the time he spent there while his father served as USSR Embassy's trade attaché, Potanin has an estimated worth of $25 billion.
Syria's parliament has backed a resolution condemning the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915 as genocide, in a move that came amid increased tensions between Ankara and Damascus in Idlib. In the past, Syria allowed the recognition of the genocide inside the country, but the government did not officially recognize it due to ties with Ankara.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described social media as a "garbage dump," saying that it became a rampant environment in terms of increasing and varying cyber-bullying. "We will never surrender to this virtual world that people's rights are violated and that they are harassed, deceived, lynched, insulted," Erdoğan said, as he urged ministries to conclude their efforts on the issue rapidly.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has sentenced two people to death over the killing of Turkish diplomat Osman Köse. "The court handed sentences to six people. Two were sentenced to death, one was sentenced to a year behind bars and the remaining three were given two years in prison each," lawyer Birzo Said told Rudaw.
The Pentagon has denied that a deal was reached between Turkey and the U.S. regarding Idlib. "No such agreement was made," Voice of America's Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb said on Feb. 12, citing Alyssa Farah, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman. Babb also said that reports of a closed door meeting between Turkish Defense Minister Akar and his U.S. counterpart Esper is false.
Moscow expects Ankara to ensure the safety of all Russians who work in Turkey, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "We have no doubt that the Turkish authorities will take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the Russian envoy and all embassy staff members," Peskov said. Turkish officials have reportedly increased security at the Russian Embassy in Ankara in the wake of threats addressed to Ambassador Alexey Yerkhov.
A total of 41 people have been killed and 75 others injured in two avalanches in the Bahçesaray district of the eastern province of Van. The first avalanche occurred due to bad weather conditions and struck a minibus late on Feb. 4. Rescue workers had been searching for survivors when the second avalanche took place early on Feb. 5, trapping them under snow.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling AKP has lost over 15,000 members within 50 days, compounding its difficulties after two founding members broke ranks to set up rival parties. As of Feb. 4, the membership of the party stands at 10.19 million members.
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey highlighted during their meeting on Feb. 12 that Idlib deal must be upheld and the Syrian regime attacks need to stop as soon possible for a political solution process to be initiated in the war-torn country, according to a statement released by the Turkish presidency.
The Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), in conjunction with the Social Information and Communication Association (TBİD) and the Alternative Information Association (Altbilişim) and other organizations have established the Free Web Turkey platform in an effort to combat and create awareness regarding online censorship in the country.
Greek far-right MEP Lagos has been suspended from joining the European Parliament's activities for four days and deprived of seven days of daily allowance after tearing up a paper copy of the Turkish flag during a session in January.
Ankara has condemned the European Parliament for hosting an event attended by Kurds sought by Turkey with a red warrant over PKK membership, saying that it "ignores the principle of fighting terrorist organizations without discrimination." "We invite EU institutions and EU member states to stand firm against terrorist organizations and no longer take terrorists under its wing," the Foreign Ministry said.
Canan Kaftancıoğlu has been re-elected as the Istanbul provincial chair of the main opposition CHP. Kaftancıoğlu was the only person who put forward her candidacy for the position, which was criticized by some party delegates, who found the process as “undemocratic.”
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) was revealed to be the only potential candidate who could win against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a potential presidential election, a survey by Bahçeşehir University's Social Research Center revealed.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the United States of threatening him and National Intelligence Agency (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan. "Unfortunately, the U.S. threatens me and my intelligence chief, as well as some financial institutions in Turkey," Erdoğan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Feb. 5.
The party membership of former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş was dropped over his ongoing ban from politics, daily Birgün reported. Demirtaş, who has been in jail for over three years, is no longer a member of the HDP due to a case that he was charged with "making propaganda of a terrorist organization." The judgement was later reversed, but his party membership had already been dropped by then, the daily said.
The U.S. has halted a secretive military intelligence cooperation program with Turkey that for years helped Ankara target the PKK, four U.S. officials told Reuters, adding that the U.S. late last year stopped flying the intelligence collection missions that targeted the PKK, which both the U.S. and Turkey classify as terrorists. "This makes the anti-PKK campaign more difficult and more costly for Turkey," an official said.
A U.S. federal court has denied a request made by Turkey to dismiss a civil suit by protesters who were violently beaten while staging a demonstration against Turkish President Erdoğan in Washington D.C. in 2017, The Hills has reported. “Defendant Turkey points to no indication that an attack by the protesters was imminent,” US District Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote in her judgement.
European Union diplomats reportedly agreed to impose travel bans on two Turkish nationals and freeze their assets. The decision to target the two individuals was reached at a meeting of EU diplomats in Brussels on Feb. 4, Bloomberg cited unnamed sources as saying. The move is in retaliation for Ankara’s gas prospecting in disputed waters near Cyprus.
Main opposition CHP has officially announced its decision to boycott CNN Türk due to its biased coverage against the party. CHP deputy chair Özkan said CNN Türk has been "functioning as if it is the advertising agency" of the ruling AKP, calling on the TV channel to adopt "independent and objective" principles of journalism.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's approval rate has dropped to the lowest it's been since October 2018, revealed "Turkey's Pulse 2020" survey by Metropoll research company. His approval rate rose as high as 48 percent during Ankara's Operation Peace Spring into Northern Syria in October 2019.
Iranian rapper Amir Tataloo, who was detained on Jan. 28 in Istanbul, has been released from police custody, Radio Free Europe reported. Turkish police told the BBC that Tataloo was detained for “visa violations,” while also confirming that a red alert had been issued for the rapper on drug-related issues.
Cizrespor, a football team representing the southeastern province of Şırnak’s Cizre district, has reversed its decision to quit the Turkish league. The club announced its original decision last week in protest of ongoing discrimination against the club. After Şırnak Gov. Pehlivan held talks with the club's executives and promised to support them, Cizrespor footballers hit the field again on Feb. 15.
The fourth hearing in the second 2015 Ankara bombing case -- which was split to allow for the prosecution of fugitive suspects -- took place on Feb. 13. Özlem Alev Demirel, a Turkey-born German MEP, was barred from observing the hearing in the Ankara courthouse.
Renowned Turkish novelist Elif Şafak's book "The Gaze" has been withheld from inmates at the women's prison in Diyarbakır. The prison management gave the copies of the book to the inmates who wished to read it, but then only a week later, they collected them back citing no reason, said HDP deputy Ebru Günay during a meeting of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission.
The Consitutional Court said that a lower court's refusal to implement its decision on the release of Mehmet Altan has violated the journalist's “right to personal liberty and security.” Accordingly, it ordered that Altan should be paid 30,000 Turkish Liras ($5,025) in compensation. The top court also warned lower courts to abide by its rulings.
İbrahim "Mike" Baycora has become the first Turkish-American police chief in the history of the United States. He was sworn in with his left hand on a copy of the Quran as the police chief of the city of Paterson in New Jersey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pardoned Ahmet Turan Kılıç, who was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment over the Sivas Massacre, which took place when a mob set the Madımak Hotel in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas on fire on July 2, 1993, killing 33 intellectuals and two hotel personnel. Erdoğan lifted the 86-year-old man's sentence due to the health problems that he has been suffering from.
A federal appeals court granted a temporary halt in the U.S. prosecution of Turkish lender Halkbank over sanctions violation charges while it weighs other requests by the bank. Prosecutors have deemed the bank a fugitive from justice, asking a judge to hold it in contempt and impose fines until it begins answering the charges. Shares of Halkbank surged 7.27 percent when markets opened on Feb. 4 following the decision.
Turkey will provide financial aid to the Ukrainian army, Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Sibiga, has said, adding that a deal is set to be signed between President Erdoğan and Ukrainian President Zelensky during the former's visit to Kiev. "According to the deal that will be signed during this trip, the Turkish side will provide financial aid worth 200 million liras for the needs of the Ukranian army," Sibiga said.
Murat Büyük, who has been living in France for the past 43 years, was denied citizenship last month after French authorities said that his loyalty to France can't be guaranteed. Shortly after, Büyük's wife Şerife Büyük's application was also denied. "Since you are his wife, you have a common living space, you can't deny his political commitment that you support indirectly," the letter sent to Şerife Büyük read.
Supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr took control of the Turkish Restaurant building, as the political leader urged his supporters known as "blue hats" on Feb. 2 to work with authorities to ensure schools and businesses can operate normally again. The Turkish Restaurant, a tall building occupied by demonstrators since October, was mostly empty after Sadrists drew out demonstrators and the blue hats stood guard outside it.
The Governor's Office in the Marmara town of Bursa will demolish 24 school buildings after inspectors determined that they would be risky in the event of an earthquake. Students from 15 of the schools will be transferred to the closest school in their district.
Four bus drivers in Vienna were laid off after getting caught signing the nationalist gesture "Grey Wolf" on surveillance footage. The sign, often associated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), was banned by Austrian legislature in 2018 as part of an effort to "combat extremism."
Istanbul police have detained 16 people in an operation carried out against members of a Russian criminal organization after determining that they arrived in the city to murder another gang leader. During the raids, the leader of the Russian group, Andri Malyi, two Ukrainians, one Russian, four Georgians and eight Azerbaijanis were detained. Police seized one Kalashnikov rifle, 11 pistols and plenty of bullets in the operation.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled that sentencing two people for demanding the release of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and initiating a campaign for this was a violation of their right to freedom of expression. A Diyarbakır court in 2015 sentenced two people each to 10 months in jail on terrorism charges for distributing campaign forms with Öcalan's picture on them.
The Turkish parliament on Jan. 29 issued a joint declaration condemning the Middle East plan presented by U.S. President Trump a day earlier. The plan "is against U.N. decisions and the perspective of the two-state solution," the declaration read.
President Erdoğan also lambasted the plan as “absolutely unacceptable,” saying it is "legitimizing Israel’s occupation."
Turkey was the subject of the highest number of judgments regarding violations of freedom of expression in 2019, the European Court of Human Rights’ annual activity report revealed on Jan. 29. Among the total 68 judgements in which the court has found a violation of freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, 35 were filed by citizens of Turkey.
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani has told Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister and President Vladimir Putin's Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa, that he is concerned about the future of Syrian Kurds. "President Barzani presented his opinion and suggestions for resolving the question of the Kurdish people in Syria," a statement released from Barzani's office read.
Following the deadly earthquake in the province of Elazığ that killed 41 people last month, geologist and earthquake expert Dr. Naci Görür wrote in a series of tweets that the expected major Istanbul earthquake will be at least a 7.2 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter in the Kumburgaz area of the western suburb of Büyükçekmece.
Belgium's Court of Cassation, the highest appeal level in the country, on Jan. 28 ratified a ruling of a lower court that acquitted 36 individuals and two companies accused of activities involving the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The case concerns a landmark decision of the Court of Appeals in March 2019 which said that the PKK's armed struggle is “Turkey's domestic dispute” and Belgian anti-terror laws cannot be imposed on the suspects.
An Istanbul court has sentenced 27 Boğaziçi students each to 10 months in jail on charges of "spreading terror propaganda" for staging a protest on the campus opposing Turkey's Afrin operation. The court postponed the execution of the sentence for 20 students.
Kurdish archaeologist Ahmet Kınay says that Kurdish society has overlooked its own history in favor of ideological in-fighting, and that its misconception that historical research is nationalism has pushed it away from looking into its heritage.
Following the disastrous 6.8 Earthquake that struck the southeastern city of Elazığ last week and claimed the lives of 41 people while injuring 1600, thousands of residents are living in tents while at least hundreds are without heating, enduring freezing conditions amid a cold winter. While some tents have heating stoves, others lack them, causing families to endure freezing conditions in a park where the pond has frozen over.
Germany's Left Party was refused a response to a parliamentary question about government ties to the Gülen organization, Ankara's primary suspect for the botched 2016 coup, causing alarm among the party's ranks. The German government refused to respond on the grounds that it would affect the operation of intelligence agencies.
General Frank McKenzie, commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), met with General Mazloum Kobani, commander of the Kurdish-led SDF, at a military base in eastern Syria on Jan. 25. Kobani reportedly asked McKenzie for reassurance that the U.S. would continue their support of SDF militants, which McKenzie returned with the promise of continued anti-ISIS efforts and collaboration in protecting oil wells.
Turkey's center-right parties are reportedly preparing to form an alliance to challenge the People's Alliance consisting of the ruling AKP and its nationalist ally MHP in the next elections. Contrary to the Nation Alliance of the last elections, the main opposition CHP won't be included in the alliance formed by these nationalist-conservative parties, Birgün reported on Jan. 23.
Turkey's former Prime Minister Davutoğlu has accused economy administration of manipulating inflation figures. "Competent people need to be in charge of this administration. Think about a doctor who tells his patient that he is fine by changing his test results. The patient says 'I'm dying,' but the doctor says, 'Look at the figures, your test results are fine.' The economy administration in Turkey is doing exactly this," he said.
The staff of İncirlik military air base in Turkey’s southern Adana province is being reduced by 424 employees. The U.S. company handling maintenance services on the air base cited “the U.S.' reducing its presence in Syria” as the reason of the staff reduction, according to an official of the Turkish Defense Workers' Trade Union.
The Ankara First Heavy Penal Court has released its justified decision on ruling for the acquittal of 19 suspects, including former Interior Minister Mehmet Ağar, in the case into 18 unsolved murders that were committed in 1990s, deeming all reports by Turkish Intelligence Agency (MİT), parliament, ministries and commissions "insufficient" to convict the suspects.
The manufacturer Boeing had fault in the crash of a Boeing 737-NG from the Turkish Airlines fleet in 2009, The New York Times reported. The aircraft was an earlier version of the Boeing 737-Max, the grounded plane that killed 346 people in crashes in Indonesia and Malaysia. Expert reports that are unavailable to the public revealed "risky design choices and faulty safety assessments" on the part of Boeing.
Currently, 59 German citizens are in Turkish prisons, and another 74 German citizens are barred from leaving Turkey pending investigation, German Foreign Ministry has announced. German Chancellor Merkel is expected to discuss this issue during her meeting with Turkish President Erdoğan in Istanbul on Jan. 24.
Wikiferheng is an online Kurdish dictionary that currently consists of 800,000 words, idioms, aphorisms, and other entries. The editors say they aim to reach 1 million words and establish a dictionary that reflects the prominent position of Kurdish among the languages of the world.
As the row over the AKP and the main opposition CHP over Kanal Istanbul continues, a report by daily Cumhuriyet said that Finance Minister Berat Albayrak purchased land on the route of the controversial canal a year after President Erdoğan announced the plans to build it. Albayrak's lawyer Ahmet Özel released a statement shortly after Cumhuriyet's report, saying that "it was an ordinary purchase."
Turkey remains 110th in the Economist's latest global democracy index. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) categorized Turkey as the only “hybrid regime” in western Europe -- the second lowest after “authoritarian regime.”
A military diplomatic source told TASS that the deal signed between Ankara and Moscow regarding the S-400 missile defense systems doesn't include technology transfers, even if it's partial. The source also said that more than 120 surface-to-air guided missile have been supplied by Russia to Turkey along with a regiment set of S-400 systems.
Due to anti-vaccination sentiment that has increased in Turkey in recent years, the number of those refusing to vaccinate their children has skyrocketed from 183 to 23,000 in only 7 years. The consequences for public health have also quickly revealed themselves, as the number of those catching measles during the first 9 months of last year increased fivefold compared to the same period in 2018, reaching 2666.
As thousands of passengers suffered from delays and cancellations in flights during last week's storms at Istanbul's new airport, Atatürk Airport continued to function properly, with Russian President Vladimir Putin using it. Atatürk Airport started to be used for cargo planes following the transfer of flights to the new airport - a move the opposition continues to criticize due to continuing disrupts in flights at the new one.
A majority of the Turkish population thinks that Turkey should remain a NATO, a survey by private polling company Metropoll revealed. The poll also asked participants how they think Turkey should position itself between the US and Russia, and half of the participants said Ankara should remain neutral.
Some 94 women have been killed while under state protection between 2015 and 2019, the Turkish Interior Ministry said. The ministry also said that over 1 million incidents of violence against women occurred between 2014 and 2019, leading to the death of 1,890 women.
Borsa Istanbul will remove two zeros from its indices on April 27, it said on Feb. 19. The stock exchange will test this move in several phases. "Planned go live date is April 27, 2020 and the index values will continue to be shown in two decimal places. Contract sizes will be decreased to 10 from 100. Price ticks for futures will be increased to 0.25 from 0.025," it noted.
The Ankara Municipality is working on securing loans in order to fund the construction of a new metro line in the capital, said Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş on Feb. 11. The line is planned to run six stops from the central Dikimevi station to the east, ending at the Nata Vega shopping mall in the district of Mamak.
Turkey's opposition parties CHP and HDP have castigated a banking bill the government has sought to push through. Both parties claimed the law will serve to fund the president's "Kanal Istanbul" project.
Turkey's Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) ruled that Turkish banks are allowed to swap only 10 percent of their legal capital. In August 2018, The BDDK had already lowered the limit of swaps, futures, forwards and options with a foreign currency and a Turkish Lira leg to 25 percent of the banks’ legal capital.
The total amount of Turkish lira held in bank accounts in Turkey reached the 1.2 trillion TL mark, while accounts denominated for foreign currency held $224.7 billion, according to recent Central Bank figures pertaining to the week ending on January 31. The amount of consumer credit stood at 460.5 billion TL, while the amount of installment commercial loans totaled 379.5 billion TL. More than a third of the consumer credit, 188.8 billion TL, pertained to mortgage and housing loans.
A parliamentary question presented to the Agriculture Ministry about olive and olive oil imports from Syria was denied a response on the grounds that the information was based on "trade secrets." Olive imports from the northwestern Syrian town of Afrin have been a topic of debate during the 2020 budget meetings due to concerns about the impact the imports would have on domestic markets.
Turkish Lira deposits in banks have increased by 0.08 percent in the last week of January, reaching 1,259,898,662,000 liras, Turkey's Central Bank (TCMB) Weekly Money and Banking Statistics revealed. Meanwhile, foreign currency deposits have seen a increase of 0.18 percent, reaching $224,700,000,000.
Turkey's Central Bank Governor Murat Uysal announced the inflation rates for this year and 2021 as 8.2 percent and 5.4 respectively. Amid an embattled lira that sunk in value throughout the course of much of 2018, inflation hit 20.3 percent December of that year, while in 2019, inflation remained in the double digits, and was 11.8 percent by the end of the year.
HSBC is considering selling its Turkey business amid concerns about the country’s volatile currency and economic outlook, sources familiar with the matter said, according to a news report released by Reuters on Jan. 29. The bank’s retreat from Turkey, where it has operated since 1990, would be one of the biggest exits from a country it has made in recent years as it shrinks its once globe-spanning empire.
Taking the Eurasia Tunnel will now take a bigger bite out of drivers' wallet as the tolls have increased by 56 percent as of Feb. 1 for both passenger cars and minibuses. There has been a 119 percent hike in the tolls for the tunnel since it was opened to traffic on Dec. 22, 2016.
McDonald's Turkey's managing company Anatolian Restaurants Management was sold to Birleşik Holding ("United Holding") for a little over 280 million Turkish Liras, approximately $46 million. Previously the property of one of Turkey's largest conglomerates Anadolu Group, the company stocks will change hand after the approval of the Turkish Competition Board.
Turkey is set to receive information on its citizens' assets in foreign countries as part of the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) that aims to prevent tax evasion in accordance with the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Information in Tax Matters. The system came into force in Turkey on Jan. 1 after it was published in the Official Gazette.
The current hunger threshold for a family of four is 2219 TL, according to recent statistics compiled in a report by the Turk-İş labor union, nearly reaching the current net minimum wage, which was determined to be 2324 TL as of January 2020.
Turkey's Treasury and Finance Ministry has fined two top banks Yapı Kredi and Akbank 281.8 million Turkish Liras ($47 million) in total for violating an insurance law. Shares of the banks slipped in response.
Turkey's private sector was in more than 210 billion dollars of foreign debt at the end of November 2019, revealed the Central Bank. While $10.2 billion of the total is floating debt, almost $200 billion of the total debt is in long-term loans. While 60.9 percent of the foreign loans were in dollars, the second largest slice was euro, making up 33.7 percent.
Total assets of the Turkish banking industry have decreased by over 21 billion liras in the beginning of the year, revealed weekly money and banking statistics by the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (TCMB). The dip represents a decrease of about 0,8 percent of assets. Turkish Lira assets took majority of the hit with a 0,71 percent decline while foreign currencies dropped by a mere 0,32 percent.
Housing sales have decreased by 1.9 percent in 2019, the Turkish Statistical Institute revealed. While 1,348,729 residences were sold in 2019, one third of these sales were mortgages. Istanbul was the city with the highest number of residences sold with 237,675 sales, followed by Ankara and İzmir. Residential sales to foreigners went up by 14.7 percent, reaching 45,483.
According to data obtained from General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre, a total of 6,694 foreigners obtained certificates of conformity in order to become Turkish citizens via purchasing real estate. The lower limit for granting citizenship via real estate purchases was decreased to $250,000 in September 2018 from one million dollars in 2017, prompting an increase in foreign investments.
Hagia Sophia was the most popular touristic site of 2019 with a total of 3,727,361 visitors, Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry said. Remodeled as a mosque under the Ottoman Empire, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935. The second most visited touristic destination in 2019 was the Mevlana Museum in Rumi's birthplace, the central Anatolian province of Konya.
Turkey was revealed to be Europe's second most affordable country to live in by CEOWORLD Magazine. According to a ranking that measures the cost of living, rent, groceries, eating out and purchasing power, Turkey is the 102nd cheapest of 132 countries worldwide.
A subcompay of the Istanbul Municipality, the Istanbul Electricity, Tramway and Tunnel General Management (İETT) will oversee the Princes' Islands' transition from horse-drawn carriages to electric vehicles. Founded in 1871, IETT currently runs the iconic red tramway in Istanbul's central district of Beyoğlu.
Istanbul residents will soon start using a mobile application at public transportation turnstiles, the municipality said. While a pilot program will be available March, the application eventually aims to make the Istanbulkart subscription, Istanbul's transportation card, into a tool that can be used for multiple purposes.
Turkey has six cities in user-generated database Numbeo's safety index rankings for 2020. Student-populated Eskişehir ranked number eight on the list with a safety rating of "high." Bursa, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Istanbul were also on the list with safety rankings of "moderate" and higher.
The Istanbul Airport's security commission has banned people from welcoming arrival passengers with pickup signs. Those who do not know the person they are waiting for are required to pay a certain fee and wait for their guests at the “meeting lounge.”