These days Turkish politics is trying to crack open its shell. In the past three years we have seen new political actors emerging from the mainstream political movements who claim to be new voices: Akşener’s İYİ Party from MHP, new parties of Babacan and Davutoğlu from AK Party, Muharrem İnce from CHP and Selahattin Demirtaş from HDP are examples of actors who are diverging from their origin. Except for Demirtaş, who is still imprisoned, and İnce, all others established their own parties. It would be an inadequate analysis to affiliate the new positions taken by these leaders solely with their personal ambitions. Currently, Turkish politics is not delivering. The unproductive rhetoric that current actors have adopted are feeble attempts to keep their base intact. This is what triggers the emergence of new actors. Public seeks a change.
Increasing popularity and the support level of Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş after the local elections can be regarded as examples of public’s pursuit of new faces and discourses in politics. Indeed, emerging actors are not new to the political scene but they claim to have something new and different to say. The movements initiated by Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ali Babacan which split from AK Party, anbd Akşener’s İYİ Party which split from MHP are examples of new movements from the recent past. When I think about HDP, the path that Demirtaş took during the local elections drives me to think that if he was not imprisoned he would put his effort into repositioning HDP if not break off and go at it alone. These are the actors that try to crack the shell of current Turkish politics to meet the demands of the society.
It seems like the supply is trying to meet the demand in Turkish politics. But is it indeed the case? Recently, three new movements were generated respectively by Ali Babacan, Ahmet Davutoğlu and Muharrem İnce. We conducted two different polls to measure their public support. In September 2019 we asked about Babacan and Davutoğlu and on last August we measured the public support for Muharrem İnce. Considering the findings of these surveys, we concluded that İnce has a considerable voting potential superiority compared to others. To say something precise would be a mistake by looking at these potentials. The charisma and the importance of the leaders on the movements they initiated or parties they established cannot be denied but we need to realize that this is only half of the work. Founding political parties are complex operations that are not much different than efficiently organizing resources for a company. Profitability and success only partly depend on how good you front line product is.
The one who cracked the shell first, Meral Akşener, deserves to be examined separately. In order for these new movements to be successful there needs to be a change of behavior in the electorate. This change can either come from the bottom or from the top. In the case of Akşener the change came from the top, meaning the MHP leadership decided to leave opposition and join the AK Party ranks leaving a host of secular MHP voters out in the open. Akşener’s İYİ Party comfortably claimed this unattended electorate and then some more. On the other hand, for Babacan and Davutoğlu, the situation is quite the opposite. To increase their vote and potential base, they have to trigger voting behavior change in the AK Party base. They need to go from bottom to the top. So if they can manage at all, we will observe their vote shares increasing incrementally.
Then there is the curious case of Muharrem İnce. Despite achieving a historic victory in the municipal elections one in five CHP voters say that thay would vote for İnce if he established a party. More interestingly, 5,7% of the People’s Alliance voters would vote for İnce if he forms a new party. This would mean around 2-2,5% of the votes total vote might be lost on the People’s Alliance side. The first time İnce made a press statement, the media close to the government gave support to him and streamed his press conference. They gave this support because they assumed that the movement İnce initiated would divide the opposition bloc, yet I think they are cheering for the wrong guy.
As we approach 2023, political parties go through a change and we might see other actors emerging into the political scene. I think this is the perfect timing for an effective Greens Party. 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 and Urbanization in the second round of the election.
President Erdoğan is no where he used to be 10 years ago, but he still maintains a comfortable lead over his rivals. In a May 2020 poll, we asked respondents to name the politician best suited to resolve the woes of the economy. The respondents could answer with any name. Only 39.7% of respondents chose Erdoğan.
Contrary to the official consumer confidence index, our figures tell a different story than the positive 20-point increase announced by TURKSTAT. Considering the fact that these indexes have a negative effect on the consumer confidence index these days, not taking them into account resulted in a very serious increase in the positive direction.
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.
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.
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.
The most pressing problem Turkey faces today is unemployment. The main cure for it is an structural improvement of the Turkish economy.
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.
As the demands of its electorate have changed, the AKP can no longer resort to ideological polarization. This could allow for shifts in the political landscape.
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.
Since 2015, patterns in voting behavior have been shifting. Poor governance and a stagnant economy are largely behind this change.