The move by the government to freeze the donation accounts of municipalities will not benefit anyone.It is not the public that is getting polarized, it is the politics. And those who polarize will lose this race.
April 4 2020
There is no need to explain the depth of the crisis created by the coronavirus. The modern world has never seen anything like this and today all of our lives are on hold due to this pandemic. Our main priority today is the health crisis caused by the spread of this virus. The cursory results April survey on TurkiyeRaporu.com which is still being conducted, demonstrates that the awareness on the significance of coronavirus is much higher among the public compared to two weeks ago. This increase in awareness is probably due to the announcement made by the Minister of Health regarding the total number of positive cases by city. I wish the Ministry of Health had announced these numbers earlier.
In the midst of this crisis, just when we thought politics was on hold, a new dispute emerged as a result of the topic of donation campaigns. The government started a donation campaign called “Biz bize yeteriz” which is quite difficult to communicate to the public. “Biz bize yeteriz” is a donation campaign on a national level where citizens are asked to make donations to the bank accounts provided by the government in order to help those who are in need. Some municipalities such as Ankara and Istanbul started similar campaigns however the donation accounts for these municipalities were frozen by the government.
There are two reasons why I believe this move by the government is wrong. The first one is the economic aspect of the crisis. Macroeconomic analysis shows that the effects of the crisis on the economy will be harsh but it is difficult to estimate the extent to which the real sector will struggle once the health crisis is solved. However, there is a more immediate problem ahead. People who work off the books and people who do not have any savings or depend on monthly income will need support from any public administration. There is no difference whether the support comes from municipalities or the government. It is possible to claim that municipalities will be faster and more accurate when it comes to distributing the raised funds. As a result, the freezing of the donation accounts of municipalities will immediately effect the group I mentioned above.
The second reason lies in the results of our recent survey. Last month we conducted a local governance satisfaction survey in the one year anniversary of the March 31, 2019 local elections. The survey was conducted in the three metropolitan municipalities to see how they performed in the past year.
One result I would like to share with you is that when we asked the participants to rate their metropolitan mayors, all three mayors received an overall of 3 out of 5 points. This means that there is considerable support to Mansur Yavaş and Ekrem İmamoğlu from AK Party and MHP voters. In fact when we asked the participants if they would vote for Ekrem İmamoğlu if he were to run again, 53% stated that they would. On the other hand, when we look at our monthly “Leader Success” results it seems that President Erdoğan has maintained his approval.
Overall, the move by the government to freeze the donation accounts of municipalities will not benefit anyone. As the economic effects of the coronavirus becomes more evident, it will be more difficult to communicate the reasoning behind this move to the public. Finally, I would like to repeat something I have been telling over and over again. It is not the public that is getting polarized, it is the politics. And those who polarize will lose this race.
Who is Can Selçuki?
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.
I think this is the perfect timing for an effective Greens Party in Turkey. It would be the ultimate appeal for the “Generation Z”. A leader of the Green Party that will get 3-4 percent of votes in the first round of presidential election might negotiate to become the Minister of Environment in the second round of the election.
The nature of the Nation’s Alliance has changed. It no longer represents a pre-election alliance formed by CHP, İYİ Party and Felicity Party like it did prior to the elections in 2018. Instead, it represents a political block against the People’s Alliance that can reach consensus on a common denominator.
Who is pleased with the presidential system in Turkey today? 61 percent of society prefers the parliamentary system as a form of governance. The change in the government system will serve as one of the opposition’s main issues in its communication as we approach the next election.
While they are no new demographic, the restless conservatives are getting stronger amongst the ruling People's Alliance electorate and the AKP base in particular. The Erdoğan and AKP that they had supported so buoyantly for the past decade are no longer the same.
42 percent of Turkish people believe the economy will be stronger next year. What is more, those who couldn’t even pay the minimum amount of their credit card bills last month, 58 percent believed that the economic situation would improve next year. Unfortunately, there is a misguided feeling of optimism around.
There are two reasons why many jobs will not come back. First, some businesses will not reopen in the wake of this calamity. Second, consumer demand is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic times for a while.
In the latest surveys more than 50% of the participants stated that, even once the pandemic is over, they will go to the shopping mall less than they did prior to the pandemic. Statistics from China demonstrate similar consumer trends. It will take some time for consumer habits to get back to normal.
Upon asking whether or not Turkey should borrow from the IMF in order to alleviate the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis, only 30.8% of participants agreed, while the remaining 69.2% disagreed. The fact remains that the IMF is still negatively connoted amongst Turkish people.
As conditions worsen for the households, prospects get darker. It appears that the first wave of the health crisis will be over soon. Brace yourself for the economic downturn that it will leave its wake. That is of course until the pandemic’s second wave.
Some 50 percent of Turkish people disagree with President Erdoğan's donation campaign and believe that the government should be supporting the people and not the other way around. Some 41 percent disagree with the government's move to freeze CHP-led municipalities' donation campaigns while only 35 percent support the decision.
In the early days of March, our polling results suggested that 46% of the population in Turkey would not get vaccinated if a vaccine was developed against COVID-19. Luckily, this indifference to the virus has evolved for the better between March and now. As we enter the most critical two weeks of the pandemic in Turkey, the numbers with respect to self-isolation and precautions offer more hope.
Like all governments around the world, the Turkish government has a number of tough calls to make during this time of public health turned economic crisis. So far, the Turkish government seems to have opted to keep up economic activity as long as it can, before it imposes a total lockdown.
Only one in two people in Turkey are worried about Coronavirus, while close to 20 percent stated that they were “neither worried nor unworried”. More strikingly, despite the warnings only 48 percent do not shake hands while only 49 percent do not kiss when seeing someone.
Amid growing tensions between Turkey and Russia on the Syrian battlefront, we asked respondents to rate the countries and international organizations based on how much they trust them. The bottom line of this story is that Turkish society has lost faith in its allies and neighbors.
The Turkish public is focused on Idlib. Naturally so. The rising number of martyrs and the difficulty to see an definitive end in sight to conflict worries many people. The risk of losing Turkish soldiers is the chief concern by 47.1% among Turkish public. If the heavy Turkish casualties continue to rise, the government might risk losing domestic support.
While one usually knows what people like about their preferred political parties, one tends to be less aware of what voters dislike about their parties. An investigation into this by TurkiyeRaporu.com showed that Turkey's two largest parties also have the most disgruntled base.
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.
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.
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Vural Özdemir writes: A smirk is invariably political and never innocent. Smirk undermines democratic practices and human rights. Let’s bear in mind that oppression is sometimes enacted upon us in the form of a smirk.
A report prepared annually by the Hrant Dink Foundation showed that Armenians were the most targeted group in hate speech in Turkish media in 2019. According to the report, there were 5,515 instances of hate speech in local and national media and 803 of them targeted Armenians. Syrian refugees followed Armenians with 760 instances, Greeks ranked third with 754 and Jews were targeted 676 times.
Turkey's premier petrochemical company Petkim has been involved in illegal oil business with Syria, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Files, which said that Petkim and its associate Petrokim completed over $90 million in "suspicious transactions" between March 2010 and January 2016.
After the suspicious death of Kurdish soldier Mustafa Araz in the province of Kırklareli in May was ruled a suicide by military officials, Araz's family has stated that they believe their son was murdered. The family also disputes that the suicide note which was added to his file actually belongs to Mustafa Araz.
A young man is offering unique codes provided by the government to visitors of the Diyarbakır Courthouse, as the codes are required to enter public buildings. Initially created as a traveling precaution during the pandemic, HES codes are available online, but not everyone knows g-how to get them, the young man said.
The HDP has conducted an online meeting with representatives from 26 EU member states regarding Turkey-EU relations, human rights, and the Kurdish issue. HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan said that the EU needs to take a more consistent stance against Turkey's "increasingly authoritarian government."
The founders of private Altınbaş University were detained on charges of fraud in Istanbul. The brothers allegedly reported buying boat fuel to benefit from tax exemptions regarding marine transportation.
An Ankara court has ruled for the continuation of imprisonment of former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ on charges related to 2014 Kobane riots. The Kobane investigation was launched in 2014 and reopened in 2019, and has failed to produce an indictment for Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ since. Lawyer Levent Kanat has said that new charges were brought against the politicians over the same incident to make sure that they remain in prison.
Heavy machinery entered the sacred Alevi grounds of Munzur Springs in eastern Dersim, despite promises from the governor's office that landscaping in the area wouldn't involve construction machinery. The state-run project will reportedly cost eight million liras, and was allegedly approved by a natural resources protection board.
Future Party chairman Ahmet Davutoğlu has said that the party will nominate its own presidential candidate in the upcoming elections, amid rumors that opposition parties are contemplating of coalescing behind a joint candidate. Davutoğlu said that although Future Party is open to cooperation with other parties concerning various issues, it still aims for the rulership on its own.
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has announced that its 72nd Great Congress will no longer be held at CerModern, but instead at Bilkent Hotel. The change came after CerModern notified the TTB that it could not meet the COVID-19-related safety guidelines designated by the Ankara Governor's Office.
Run by Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), the Islamic Research Center (İSAM) has seen a 600-percent increase in its budget over the last 16 years. Known for holding a symposium about Islamic fatwas on medical issues, the foundation is chaired by a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
A group of health workers in Ankara had to barricade the door of an emergency room when loved ones of a patient wanted to push their way in to see the deceased gunshot victim. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that the workers had been afraid of a violent attack, as health workers in Turkey are often targeted by patients' families.
Turkey's Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK) got into a brawl with an actor over a complaint from an 11-year-old viewer who said the actor's show "affected him a lot." After RTÜK shared the message on social media, the actor protested the council's reporting of his show to the public.
Climate activists who have been living in western Kaz Mountains in protest of destructive mining activities were detained as gendarmerie raided their campsite on Sept. 22. One activist said that the detentions were prompted by the wishes of Cengiz Holding, a company known for their close ties to Ankara who recently signed a tender for mining in the Kaz Mountains.
An initiative launched by lawyers close to the government has announced that it has collected the minimum number of signatures need to establish its own bar association in Istanbul. The founding member of the Istanbul No. 2 Bar Association, Cavit Tatlı has said that they will submit their application to the Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) on Sept. 23.
Artists from Mersin University and local children are painting a local Roma neighborhood together. While the project aims to reflect the community's vibrant culture, the university team envisions to turn the neighborhood into a monument of Roma people.
Turkey's greens established a political party named “Green Party” and filed an application with the Interior Ministry on Sept. 21. Party co-chair Koray Doğan Urbarlı said that the green movement exists in Turkey for many years but they have been conducting works to transform the initiation into a party for a year now. Urbalı said that apart from the climate crisis, the new party will propose solutions with regards to issues such as social gender, democracy and freedom.
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Turkish Airlines (THY) observed a drop of almost 65 percent in the number of August travelers compared to the year before. Domestic flights saw a smaller drop of 47.1 percent, while international flights shrank by 75.4 percent, THY said.
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.