Turkish youth to become acting force in transforming politics - analyst

Turkey’s below 30 population is beginning to demand a radical overhaul of the systems and has demonstrated that it is capable of acting as a force to transform the country’s embattled political scene, Seren Selvin Korkmaz, executive director of the IstanPol Institute think tank said.

Over seven million Turks who are members of Generation Z are set to vote in the upcoming general elections set for 2023. The demographic has demonstrated that it does not care for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has ruled the country for almost two decades.

“Instead of participating in organized politics as members of youth branches of long-standing political parties, Turkish youth seem to be coming together under the influence of new, technologically innovative, inclusive and informal platforms,’’ Korkmaz wrote in an article she penned for Open Democracy.

The analyst pointed to initiatives by the young generation such as the Gray Area Platform [Gri Bölgein Turkish], which focuses its online activities on the problems of the youth and their vision for the future and the Youth Unemployed People Platform ( KYKlılar Platformu) which focus on the country’s many socio-economic woes.

Such organizations are raising public awareness around issues plaguing the country’s youth, she wrote, including the ongoing economic crisis, the high youth unemployment.

Turkish youth unemployment has increased to 27 percent, according to statistics from the Turkish government’s statistics authority (TÜİK), but many believe the official statistics fail to account for the full magnitude of the country’s unemployment problem.

Citing a recent poll by SODEV, Korkmaz noted that 62.5 percent of youth would like to leave the country, with 47 percent of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) voters and 69 percent of far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voters wishing to live abroad in Western countries. 

Those surveyed cited precarious work conditions, unemployment, and nepotism as their main problems.

Politicians like Istanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, the leader of the recently founded AKP breakaway DEVA Party, Ali Babacan, and the jailed former pro-Kurish opposition party chair Selahattin Demirtaş have the potential to attract Turkey’s youth, Korkmaz said.

“Both Generation Y, which was the prominent force of Gezi Resistance in Turkey in 2013, and Generation Z with their new approach to politics and everyday life, shared a global vision, and hope for the re-democratization of Turkey in the near future,’’ she wrote.