AKP support drops as 27 percent of Turks are "half-starving" - poll

Twenty-seven percent of Turkish citizens are believed to be at near starving levels, causing a drop in approval ratings for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Özer Sencar, the founder of Metropoll Research, said.

On Monday, Bianet news site reported that the latest results from Metropoll Research’s monthly public survey for April, which found that up to 27 percent of Turks could not meet their basic needs. 

Sencar told Bianet English that this was the first time their survey’s findings were in parallel with official statistics reported by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TürkStat).

Sencar described said demographic of Turks as “going around half-starved.” Adding to the sobering picture presented by Metropoll’s survey is the fall in the number of those citizens who can actually make their ends meet from 26 percent to only 17.2 percent. 

"The past year has seen a nearly nine percentage point decrease in the rate of those who say they can meet their all needs. In other words, the rate of those who can meet all types of needs has dropped by 33 percent in a year,’’ Sencar said. "I think this is a huge rate, this is a very significant incident. How could society get so poor in a year? This is something that can happen only in wartime.” 

Metropoll’s research portrays the plight of many Turks whose lives have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sencar notes that many jobs and businesses were lost in the last year, but adds that the situation is not helped by the weakness of the aid granted by the Turkish government. 

“The aid provided by the government to the people who have incurred damages and income losses due to the pandemic is at the lowest level across the world,” said Sencar. To showcase this contrast, he said Turkey provided pandemic aid worth only 1.5 percent of national income versus 30 percent provided by the United States.

Sencar said that Metropoll’s findings also show that AKP ratings are deteriorating in tandem with the economic well-being of Turkish citizens. According to their data, AKP voters themselves are divided evenly between those who see the living situation in Turkey improving and those who see it deteriorating. 

In particular, Metropoll’s data shows a 8.5 percent drop in approval ratings for the AKP in the last three years because of the weakening economy. Sencar said that even if the number of swing voters are taken into account, the AKP’s in a weaker position than in previous years. 

"Even when we distribute the floating voters proportionally, it makes 34.1 percent for the AKP. Based on this last rate, we see that the AKP's vote rate has dropped from 42.6 percent to 34.1 percent in the last three years. So, there has been a 8.5-point decrease,” said Sencar.