TURKEY

We are happy with the government, we do not welcome diversity

The results of the survey “Social and Political Trends in Turkey-2017” conducted by Kadir Has University were released. The study reveals public perceptions regarding politics, economy and foreign policies. The study also lists socio-cultural priorities.
Karel VALANSİ
We are happy with the government, we do not welcome diversity
Distribution of ´How average Turkish citizen wants to be neighbour to minorities/different sects of society and cultural background

The results of the survey “Social and Political Trends in Turkey” conducted by Kadir Has University Center for Turkish Studies were released. This survey, which also serves as a mirror into Turkey, shows the public’s approach towards current issues including politics, economy, Kurdish issue and terrorism as well as revealing socio-cultural habits. The survey was conducted between December 11, 2017 and January 7, 2018 through face to face interviews with 1,000 respondents, aged 18 and above, residing in the city centers of 26 cities.  When reading the results about foreign policy, it is especially important to keep in mind that this survey was conducted right before Operation Olive Branch started.

 

>> The most important problem is terrorism, economy comes third

According to the respondents, fighting terrorism and FETO are the most critical problems on Turkey’s agenda. Economic issues come next. There is a significant change in this year’s results compared to previous years, since in previous years economic issues were ranked top. When we look at other issues in the ranking, rights and freedoms (3.9 %) and Kurdish issue (3.5%) complete the list. When asked what the most effective solution for fighting terrorism is, the respondents’ answers were similar to recent year’s survey: military and political methods. Support for cultural and social policies based on dialogue fell by half. The respondents find the government’s performance in combatting PKK, FETO and ISIS, successful.

>> Government’s report card on its foreign policy performance is good

Respondents believe that the government is successful in foreign policy. There is a significant increase compared to last year’s survey: 2016- 35.2%, 2017- 45.9%. Also 38.5 % of respondents believe that the Syria policy adopted by the government is successful. However, when based on political affiliation, the results vary. While among all respondents 63.6 % of AKP voters find the government’s Syria policy ‘definitely successful’ and ‘successful’, only 20.2 % of CHP voters and 16.7 % of MHP voters find the government’s Syria policy successful. The sense of belonging and affiliation played a significant role especially among AKP voters, throughout the questions.  Support for cross-border operations (56.4 %) and military presence (48.5%) in foreign countries has increased compared to last year.

>> Azerbaijan is a friend, USA and Israel are foes

When it comes to cooperation, compared to recent years, there were less respondents who said, “Turkey must act alone”.  When it comes to countries to form alliance with, the top choices are listed as Turkic Republics. This demonstrates the fact that the country still has not overcome loneliness syndrome. After all, the notion, “Turks have no other friends than Turks” has been sealed into people’s brains.  Following Muslim countries, Russia comes next in the list, before Western countries. Even though USA comes before European Countries in the list of countries to form alliance with, it is also at the top of the list of countries that pose a threat for Turkey. The rising tension between Turkey and USA has clearly had a negative impact on this result.  Even though, in recent years Israel was at the top of the list of countries that pose a threat for Turkey, this year it is in second place. Azerbaijan is by far (67.8%) ranked as the closest ally of Turkey. TRNC, Russia and Georgia follow Azerbaijan.

 

>> Support for EU Dream and NATO Membership Continues 

Even though we are going through a period where there are some who think Turkey should leave NATO, the public’s faith and support for NATO continues. However, even though 59.2 % of the respondents stated that NATO membership should continue, 39.8 % of respondents stated that they believe Turkey is capable of ensuring its own security without NATO’s support.  Similarly, despite recent crisis between EU and Turkey, support for Turkey’s EU membership increased to 57.8 %.      43.6% of respondents stated that Turkey should continue negotiations with EU. Also, 38.5% of respondents stated that they think it is possible for Turkey to be a member of the EU. This is an increase compared to recent years. Even though these results might be surprising considering the recent tensions, we might say that these results are in direct correlation with the government’s positive statements. We might also say for certain that regardless of everything, EU maintains its role as an ideal for the country. On the other hand, the fact that USA is perceived as a threat and Russia is perceived a closer ally than Western Countries makes you question which criteria these answers were based on.  

>> Kurdish Issue

43.5 % of respondents find the government’s Kurdish policies successful. Majority of respondents (57.7%) do not think the resolution process should be restarted. 48.4% of respondents with Kurdish origin demand for a more democratic Turkey and 33.9 % see unemployment as the main issue. Respondents were asked which party they voted for in 2015 elections. Even though responses almost reflect the election results, it is seen that respondents who voted for HDP tended to hide it. While the number of respondents who responded to the question “How would you define your ethnicity?” as “Turkish” increased compared to recent years, the significant decrease in respondents who defined their ethnicity as “Kurdish” was striking.

>> The most important problem in economy is unemployment

Within the last year, the percentage of those who stated that “I am worse off economically” and “I couldn’t provide for my family” reached 55.1%. However, in general, government’s policies regarding economy are found successful. While 38.7% of respondents in 2016 survey found government’s policies regarding economy successful, in 2017 there was a significant increase in 2017 (47.7%). Most important problems in economy are cited as unemployment, depreciation of TL, increase in food prices. Respondents living in Istanbul and respondents living in Izmir complain that the main problem is traffic, while respondents living in Ankara complain from unemployment.  Also while respondents living in Izmir and respondents living in Ankara complain about infrastructure problems, respondents living in Istanbul state that they long for more green spaces.

>> Secular- Religious polarization

In general, respondents admit there is a political polarization in the country. They believe that just like in the past, this polarization is between secular and religious segments. Support for the declaration of the state of emergency after the events of July 15th, 2016 is 58.5%. Extension of state of emergency is primarily supported by respondents who have affiliation with AKP. (61.7%). Despite these results, almost half of respondents believe that conditions entailed by state of emergency harm democratic rights (46.7%). The percentage of those who believe judiciary in Turkey has become politicized is still high (50.6%), however it is lower than recent years.

>> Least reliable institution is media

According to respondents, most reliable institutions are police, gendarmery, and army. Media is one of the least reliable institutions (35%). The most prestigious jobs according to respondents are medical doctors, judges, lawyers and college professors. Journalists are among the least prestigious jobs with 1% indicating the current perception of media.

>> Is IYI Party an option?

According to the survey, without a doubt Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the most supported (49.7%) and admired (56.4%) political leader. On the other hand, it is believed that there is a political void in Turkey and IYI Party, the recently founded party that has drawn reaction with its anti-Semitic statements, can fill this void. (45.6%). According to respondent’s answers, it seems that Meral Aksener’s IYI Party is most likely to get votes from MHP voters.

>> A conservative and religious Turkey

The survey demonstrates a striking trend in the recent years. The number of people identifying themselves as conservative and religious is increasing. Nearly half the Turkish people (47.4%) define themselves as religious and conservative. This trend is rising as compared to recent years.

>> “I don’t want a Jewish neighbor”

We do not welcome diversity. When asked about their opinion with regards to the people they want or do not want to be neighbors with, the respondents stated that they do not want to be neighbors with gays, refugees, Arabs, foreigners. The list goes on and on. Respondents do not want to be neighbors with people who consume alcohol, unmarried couples living together, divorced women, people with different political views or ethnicity or religion. Non-Muslims are on top of the list of people respondents do not want to be neighbors with. (Armenians-37.7%, Greeks-32.9%, Jews-31.7%, Christians-30.8%). The good news is, half the respondents stated, “Not important for me”.

You wouldn’t want a person you don’t want to be neighbors with marrying your child. The respondents were given a list of people and asked who they would disapprove if their child was to get married to one of them.  The list includes a person who has a different education level, a non-Muslim person, a person from a different ethnic background, a foreigner, a person who belongs to different sect, a non-believer person, a person who has a lower income, a person who has a different cultural/social background. 28.2 % of the respondents answered none of the people in the list. Other results are non-Muslims (16.2%), different ethnic background (16.5%), different education level (17%). 

>> We are neither reading books, nor going to theaters

From socio-cultural perspective, the survey demonstrated that we are not reading newspapers (37.1% of respondents). The ones who do read mostly read newspapers online (55.4%). We also don’t read books (52.8%). The yearly average number of books read by respondents who stated they read books is 5,4. 69.9% do not go to theater and 37.6% do not go to movies. There are respondents who stated that they go to pop music concerts and football games. However, we do watch TV. 44.8% of respondents spend 3 hours a day in front of their TV. 31.5% of respondents spend 5 hours a day in front of their TV. We spend the rest of our time on social media and computer games. ( 1-3 hours/day- 47.7%)

>> Are we happy?

Despite all various problems, when we put down all these findings,  are we happy? Yes. 52.5% of respondents said they are happy. The percentage of respondents who prefer to live abroad is close to none. 61.2% of respondents state that they wouldn’t leave Turkey. Those who consider living abroad state that the main reason for this is living conditions. What these living conditions entail is an issue I am curious about.

 

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