The Survey of Social-Political Trends in Turkey, conducted every year in December by Kadir Has University, continues to reflect changes in public opinion in the country. According to the survey, in 2015, people saw terror and unemployment as the most serious problems and with regard to current discussions of a “presidential system”, expressed a preference for parliamentary democracy and a unitary state system.
The results of the “Survey of Social-Political Trends in Turkey”, conducted annually by the university, were presented at a press conference in the Fener Hall of the Cibali campus of Kadir Has University on Tuesday, January 12, 2015 with the attendance of Prof. Mustafa Aydın, Rector of Kadir Has University, Prof. Osman Zaim, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, and Prof. Banu Baybars Hawks, Member of the Faculty of Communications.
The “Survey of Social-Political Trends in Turkey” was conducted between 9 and 17 December 2015 with 1000 respondents, representative of the country’s population, aged 18 and above, residing in the city centers of 26 cities who answered questions on Turkish politics, economics and social relations, Turkey and international issues in face to face interviews.
TERROR IS SEEN AS THE MOST SERIOUS PROBLEM
In 2015, terror was “the most serious problem in Turkey” according to the respondents. While 13.9 percent of participants indicated terror to be the most serious problem in the country in 2014, this rate went up to 39.3 percent in 2015. Unemployment, seen as the second most important problem in 2015 at 16.3 percent, has fallen significantly from the much higher rate of 33 percent recorded for the previous year.
ECONOMY NOT GOING WELL
According to the survey results, citizens do not see the economy doing well. While in 2014, in response to the question “How did the economic developments of the preceding year influence you?” 45.3 percent of respondents stated that they were negatively affected, this rate has increased to 53.2 percent this year. Only 5.3% of respondents stated that they were in economically good shape. Last year this rate was found to be 7.1%. In addition to this, 67.4 percent of the survey respondents state that the Central Bank should be independent of politics.
“FIGHT AGAINST PKK IS UNSUCCESSFUL, TURKEY MAY BE DIVIDED!”
According to the survey, this year there is a more balanced approach towards solving terrorism. Last year, 39.2 percent of respondents stated that military methods were the most effective way to solve this problem, this year however, the same response has fallen to 31.6 percent. The ratio of respondents who regard political measures as being the best remedy for terror has remained unchanged since the previous year at 30.9 percent. This year, options such as culture policies and economic measures seem to come to the fore more than in previous years.
When asked about the government’s performance in the fight against the PKK, 45.8 percent of respondents stated that they found the government’s performance to be unsuccessful.
Moreover, the survey results reveal that the rate of those who regard Turkey as being in danger of being divided has increased. In response to the question “Do you think Turkey is under the threat of being divided?” 54.2 of participants said “Yes.” In 2014, this rate was 46.2 percent. When this result is evaluated in terms of political party allegiance, regions and ethnic background, the perception that Turkey is in danger of being divided appears to be the common perception across Turkey.
The percentage of respondents describing ISIS as a terror group and perceiving it as a threat to Turkey has also fallen. Those who describe ISIS as a terror group decreased from 93.2 to 86.4 percent since last year. While in the last survey, 82.3 percent of respondents described ISIS as a threat to Turkey, this rate has decreased to 78 percent this year. 54.1% of respondents agree that direct and intensive air strikes should be carried out against ISIS. Moreover, 45.1 percent of participants believe that the explosions in Diyarbakır, Suruç and Ankara were “carried out by ISIS alone” and 50.2 percent think that “ISIS was responsible for these events.”
The survey also reveals that there is a rise in the percentage of people who perceive the government’s actions on the Kurdish issue to be successful. While this approval rate was 25 percent in the previous survey, it increased to 29.9 percent this year. There was also a decline in the percentage of respondents who perceive the government’s approach to solving the Kurdish issue to be unsuccessful: while this disapproval rate was 47.7 last year, it decreased to 40 percent in the new survey. The 19.1 percent who approve of the government’s approach to solving the Kurdish issue do so because they find “The government to be successful in the negotiation process”, while the 36.8 percent who find the government’s approach to be unsuccessful, state “terror has not ended in all these years” as the grounds for this opinion.
DOES THE HDP REPRESENT KURDS, AND DO KURDS WANT INDEPENDENCE?
When asked whether they thought the Kurdish people were represented by the HDP and PKK, the percentage of participants stating that they believe that the HDP represents the Kurdish people was found to be 32.2 percent, while those who believe that the HDP does not represents the Kurdish people was found to be 35.3 percent.
Citizens’ perspective on the PKK’s representation of Kurds is as follows: 19.9 percent of respondents believe that the PKK represents Kurdish people, while 52 percent think it does not. 52.8 percent of participants approve of education being provided in the mother tongue, while 47 percent of respondents suggested “Islam” as the main bond connecting Kurds and Turks to each other. 53 percent of respondents expressed a desire for the negotiation process to restart.
The survey also reveals that 64.6 percent of respondents support a unified state, while 32.6 percent of respondents believe that Kurds desire an “Independent Kurdish State.”
EVERYONE FINDS HIS/HER OWN PARTY AND LEADER TO BE SUCCESSFUL
The study shows that citizens consider the parties and party leaders they vote for to be successful.
Thus, 42.3 percent of respondents consider the AKP, 25.9 percent the CHP, 13.5 percent the HDP and 11.2 percent the MHP to be successful. When this question is asked based on the parties the respondents voted for; 65 percent of AKP, 56.3 percent of MHP, 45.6 of CHP and 43.2 of HDP voters consider their parties to be successful.
When it comes to judging leaders’ success, the percentage of respondents who describe the following leaders as successful is as follows: Ahmet Davutoğlu 42.3 percent, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 25.5 percent, Selahattin Demirtaş 14.9 percent, Devlet Bahçeli 10.9 percent. This year the percentage of respondents who consider President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to be successful is 43.6 %, while those who consider him to be unsuccessful is 40.7 %. It is worth mentioning that last year 35.9 percent of respondents considered him to be unsuccessful.
THE mılıtary IS once agaın THE most TRUSTED INSTITUTION
According to the survey results, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) were once again the most trusted institution. While 62.4 percent of respondents stated that they considered the TSK to be successful, police forces were the second most trusted institution at 51.9 percent and universities were third at 49.8 percent. The least trusted institutions were the Parliament at 31.8 percent, the media at 27.8 percent and political parties at 33.9 percent.
NO SUPPORT FOR ‘BEŞTEPE’ AND PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM
Asked whether they approved the Presidential Office being moved from Çankaya to the Presidential Complex in Beştepe, 44 percent of respondents stated their disapproval.
75.4 percent of survey participants stated that the Presidential Office should be neutral.
When asked “What do you think the administrative system of the country should be?” 68,9% of respondents stated their preference for “parliamentary democracy”. Despite a 10 point increase from last year, support for a Presidential system remained low at 22.1 percent. 32.2 percent of participants gave as their main reason for not wanting a presidential system the possibility that this would “increase the polarization of society” and 27.1 percent of participants thought a presidential system would lead to “one-man rule.”
BELIEF IN THE EXISTENCE OF A ‘PARALLEL STUCTURE’ HAS DECREASED
Belief in the existence of a parallel state structure within the state has fallen to 43.5 percent of respondents. 63 percent of participants stated that they found the government’s fight against the parallel structure to be adequate, while 73.8 percent approved of the methods used to fight the parallel structure.
SUPPORT FOR THE EU CONTINUES TO FALL
While 71.4 percent of respondents supported the EU in 2014, this rate decreased to 65.1 percent this year. There has been a sharp fall in the belief in the possibility of Turkey’s EU membership with a decrease from 45.1 percent to 38.3 percent since the last survey. Similarly, the percentage of those who support the continuation of Turkey’s NATO membership, which was 76.2 percent last year, has fallen to 69.5 percent in this survey.
RUSSIA IS THE MOST DANGEROUS COUNTRY
Although Israel had been at the top of the list of countries thought to “pose the biggest threat to Turkey” since 2011, this year the Russian Federation replaced Israel on this list. The percentages of those who consider the USA, Syria and Israel to pose a threat to Turkey have fallen in 2015.
THE GOVERNMENT’S SYRIA POLICY IS UNSUCCESSFUL
This year the percentage of respondents who find the government’s Syria policy to be completely successful or successful was 29.5 percent, while 50.3 percent consider it to either be unsuccessful or completely unsuccessful. 46.5 percent of people expressed a preference for “being neutral and not intervening”.
In the survey, when questioned about the policies Turkey should apply towards refugees, 56 percent of participants stated that Turkey should stop taking more refugees.
78.5 percent of participants stated approval for Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane in Syria in order to protect its borders.
TURKEY IS CHANGING FOR THE BETTER
In the survey opinions towards changes Turkey is undergoing were also questioned and 63.4 percent of participants stated that they consider Turkey to be a changing country and the percentage of those who believe Turkey is changing for the better has increased from 55.7 percent in 2014 to 60.4 percent this year.
HAPPINESS RATES ARE FALLING
When participants were asked about their level of happiness about living in Turkey, it was observed that the percentage of those stating that they were very happy or happy to be living in Turkey has fallen from 60.7 percent to 48 percent since the last survey, while those saying that they were unhappy or very unhappy rose from 19.7 percent to 25.7 since last year.