Polarisation survey shows divide in Turkish society

A survey on polarisation in Turkish society carried out by Istanbul’s Bilgi University shows many Turkish respondents are now hostile to any public political actions carried out by political parties they disagree with.

More respondents than not said that the major party they most disagreed with should be banned from making press statements (42.7% to 31.6%), meetings (44.0% to 34.3%) and demonstrations (46.4% to 30.6%) in the place where they lived, while only a small majority (37.7% to 37.6%) believed they should even be allowed to stand for democratic election.

Moreover, voters gave significant “halo” effects to those with similar political stances, seeing them as working for the benefit of the country (91.5%), patriotic (90.7%), and smart (83.7%), while the supporters of the major party they most disagreed with were seen as posing a threat to the country (85.7%), cruel (83.2%), and two-faced (84.1%).

Long-term religious/secular and Turkish/Kurdish divides can clearly be seen in the data, and voters tend to be strongly positive about the leader of the party they vote for and strongly negative about all other party leaders. The only exception to this is a fondness for Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli among Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters now that he appears to be leading his party into coalition with the AKP at the next election.

Television is still the most common source of information for political issues, with 79.9 percent of those surveyed saying they got their information from the television. Meanwhile, 56.3 percent said they learnt their information from friends, 52.5 percent from their smart phones, 39.8 percent from news sites on the internet, 31.1 percent from Facebook and Twitter, 21.2 percent from newspapers and only 11.8 percent from the radio.

However, there were some things that respondents who voted for all parties could agree upon; 86.2 percent of respondents wanted to send back Syrian refugees to their country of origin, for example.

Some 87.6 percent of respondents believed that European states wanted to divide up and conquer Turkey, while 77.6 percent said that European countries’ attitudes towards Turkey belied a “crusader spirit”.

The voters of all parties also saw the United States as the biggest threat to Turkey.