Economy top concern for Turkish voting public - pollsters
Ahval spoke with the heads of leading polling firms in Turkey to gauge their view of the coming year. The pollsters were asked what they believed voters expected from politicians and the government in 2018 and what their priorities were. According to the pollsters, voters’ single greatest concern appears to be the economy.
Adil Gür (A&G Kamuoyu Araştırma Şirketi):
“The voting trends seen during each period are basically factors relevant to the economy and quality of life. First and foremost, people vote based on the economy and state of their pocketbooks. Since 2013, however, voters have also voiced concerns regarding the unity and survival of the country.
“It is assumed that these trends will continue in 2018-2019. Turkey has had some economic concerns the past couple of years. However, voters don’t blame the government for the poor economy, but rather blame internal and external forces attacking the country. Other factors in voting trends, in addition to economic and security issues, include education, health, transportation and social benefits.”
Özer Sencar (MetroPoll Araştırma Şirketi):
“When people were polled in December, and asked what they saw as the country’s biggest concerns, 28.6 percent said the economy and 18.5 percent said unemployment. Collectively, only 47 percent of the people see the economy as a primary concern. Of the remaining, 14 percent were concerned with terror when asked in December 2017, whereas approximately 60 percent had indicated that terror was a primary concern January 2017.
“Only about 5 percent of the voters indicated a concern with education, 1.6 percent a lack of democratic freedoms and 2.2 percent with judicial restrictions, collectively making up less than 10 percent of the electorate. However, according to polls, most people don’t trust the judicial system and expectations of democracy and freedoms are very low.
“The voters expect the government and politicians to fix the economy, however. When asked about the condition of Turkey, 33 percent said it was good, 45 percent felt it was declining. In the past year, living standards and wealth have declined by 50 percent for many families, with almost half the population greatly concerned with the economy and lack of employment opportunities.”
Murat Sarı (Konsensus):
“Voters don’t want to live in fear anymore. But, unemployment, inflation, and cost of living concerns have increased. A significant percentage of the public say that they can’t make ends meet.
“While growth in the third quarter in 2017 was reportedly 11 percent, the effect of this significant bump in the economy has not been felt in the streets yet, due to following a lengthy period of high unemployment.
“There probably will be no early elections, so voters in 2019 will most likely make their selections taking these factors into consideration. Voters want to see a stable economy, know that prices remain steady and that they themselves feel safe when walking in the streets.
“They trust parliament. They trust government. That is, outside of politicians, people trust the government. But, trust in politics and politicians are at rock bottom.
“A big percentage of voters have expectations of upcoming changes, perhaps not in the ruling party, but changes at the local level. If parties can anticipate the expectations of the voters in 2019, they will win.”
Yüksel Genç (Siyasal ve Sosyal Araştırmalar Merkezi / SAMER):
“As the Centre for Political and Social Studies, most of our research and reports are in the southeast.
“Voters have low expectations of politicians in 2018. In fact, there are zero expectations from parliament and politicians by the region’s voters. Around 80 percent of people are concerned about Turkey’s future and security. The region’s people believe that there is ongoing political crisis and chaos.
“Local voters claim that the greatest issue is the Kurdish question followed by the economy, unemployment, and lack of democracy.
Since the last poll, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of people living in poverty: now almost half the population. This is due primarily to increased unemployment resulting from government operations that started at the beginning of 2015. This has also led to decreased democratic freedoms.”
Hakan Bayrakçı (Sonar Araştırma Şirketi):
“The primary concern of voters is first the economy, then terror and Turkey’s destroyed international relations. The people believe that issues in foreign relations lead to a depressed economy. Voters have observed that Turkey is in conflict with all its neighbours and allies.
“In 2018, the voters’ primary agenda will be the economy. People don’t want to live in conflict anymore. They want peace and a sustainable economy. When bombs go off, voters put terror acts as primary concerns, but when things are normalised, people again focus on the economy. They want confidence regarding both their material and spiritual needs, which is something President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan understands.”
Ertan Aksoy (Aksoy Pazar ve Kamuoyu Araştırma Şirketi):
“Democratic and educational requirements change periodically. Voters don’t always understand or want the same things in a democracy. For example, many consider those who side with them as being non-partisan or neutral. This definition doesn’t match up with the universal definition of democracy.
“It is difficult to describe the typical Turkish voter. There are very different electoral structures. The foundation of the AKP is approximately 25 percent and this group has few concerns about the future. People who claim to be AKP members in total approximately 15 percent and they have some concerns, but those who have no conservative or right-wing alternatives other than the AKP total about 10 percent and this group has concerns. Members of the CHP and HDP have other concerns associated with personal freedoms, human rights abuses, and lack of democracy, in addition to their economic concerns.
“There are no significant concerns about national security and solidarity, but there is great sensitivity. A great part of the electorate believes that Turkey’s external problems are due to Western intervention.
“Turkish voters take two things into consideration: One is the economy, the other non-material, spiritual needs and voters want both.”
Can Selçuki (Istanbul Ekonomi Araştırma):
“The Turkish public is optimistic as a whole, and people believe in a better future, even if currently, there are economic and political concerns. Polling results show that about 40 percent of the public believes the economy will worsen, but 38 percent believes that it will get better, while another 22 percent made no assumptions.”