AKP risks losing from its voter base - Turkish pollster

Public support for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was less than 30 percent in February, a month before the country recorded its first coronavirus case and started implementing pandemic-preventing measures, Turkish polling company KONDA found.

The head of Turkey’s leading pollster, Bekir Ağırdır, pointed to the large portion of undecided voters, who made up 36 percent of the voting base, in the same time frame. "An alliance on the right would benefit the ruling bloc," he said during a live broadcast.

The AKP government relies on polarising the country’s opposition parties in order to maintain itself, Ağırdır said, referring to the main opposition Republican People’s Party, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, the nationalist Good Party and AKP breakaway the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA).

“Instead of a success story, (AKP) is always producing tension. The general logic is always based on fighting domestic and external enemies,” he said.

The KONDA head also highlighted that AKP breakaways DEVA and the Future Party, led by former Economy Minister Ali Babacan and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu respectively, threatened to pick away the ruling party’s supporter base.

“By the end of this year, it is clear that both parties will be eligible to run in the elections,” Ağırdır said. “I don't think a statement like 'it’s been six months, they still aren’t above 5 percent ' is true either.”

Dr. Salim Çevik, a political analyst from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, predicted even a small support transferred to either DEVA or the Future Party could shake up the political status quo in Turkey.

“Even if the Future Party, which runs on a conservative platform similar with the AKP, wins only two percent of the vote,” Ağırdır said, adding that the two percent would come from disillusioned supporters of the ruling party. Meanwhile, DEVA would attract supporters from AKP and other opposition parties.

“But in any case, even a one percent vote they win will affect the AKP's ability to maintain the government,” he added. “I can tell you this: People are drifting away from the AKP, but they can't find a place to go."

Ağırdır said he did not expect a snap election.