Erdoğan’s job approval rating at lowest level since COVID-19 outbreak

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s job approval rating fell to the lowest level since the outbreak of COVID-19, according to a nationwide survey published on Monday.

Research company Metropoll said 47.9 percent of the population were happy with Erdoğan’s performance. That figure fell from 50.6 percent in July and 52 percent in June. His popularity had stood at 55 percent in March, when COVID-19 struck, the highest level since a failed military coup in July 2016.

The monthly poll showed that 46.2 percent of the population did not approve of Erdoğan’s leadership. That was the fifth-straight month-on-month increase.

Erdoğan’s government has injected around 250 billion liras of stimulus into the economy, barred companies from firing workers and persuaded the central bank to keep interest rates at below the rate of inflation to help the economy recover from the impact of COVID-19.

But his government’s stimulus efforts have pushed the Turkish lira to record lows against major currencies, annual inflation has accelerated to 11.8 percent and the number of people either unemployed or no longer in the job market has surged.  

The Turkish president has also become embroiled in political and military standoffs with regional countries, policies that have divided public opinion.

Tensions with Greece over territories in the Mediterranean have intensified in recent weeks. Erdoğan’s pursuit of hydrocarbons in contested waters off Turkey’s coastline and near Cyprus have provoked rebukes from the United States and the European Union. Germany has sought to intervene diplomatically to avert a possible military confrontation.

Almost 60 percent of Turks want problems with Greece resolved through negotiation, Metropoll said at the weekend, citing a separate questionnaire. Less than one-third of respondents said military force should be used if necessary.

Libya has become another flashpoint after Turkey backed the Government of National Accord in the capital Tripoli with weapons, mercenaries and know-how against opposition forces supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Opinion polls have indicated that many Turks do not approve of the country stepping up its military involvement in Libya.

Metropoll did not say how many people it interviewed for the August opinion poll. In July, it said 1,350 people participated in 28 regions across Turkey, responding to questions via telephone. The margin of error for that survey was 2.67 percentage points.