The findings of “Research on Social-Political Trends in Turkey” conducted every year by Kadir Has University Turkey Research Center were released on 18 January 2017 (Wednesday) at a press meeting organized at Kadir Has University Cibali Campus. Rector of Kadir Has University Prof. Dr. Mustafa Aydın; Vice-Rector Prof. Dr. Hasan Bülent Kahraman; Dean of The Faculty of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences Prof. Dr. Osman Zaim, and member of The Faculty of Communication Prof. Dr. Banu Baybars Hawks were present at the meeting.
“Research on Social-Political Trends in Turkey” was conducted between 7-16 December 2016 with a sample of 1000 participants who live in 26 cities representative of Turkey’s population over the age of 18, and conducted face-to-face surveys including questions on politics, economic developments, social relations, and the national and international agenda.
TERROR AND THE FIGHT AGAINST FETO ARE STILL THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS
According to the research, in 2016 the public saw terror and the fight against FETO as the most important problems of Turkey. Terror, which was seen as the most important problem of the country by 39% of the population in 2015, in 2016 is still seen as the biggest threat by 35% of the population. A dramatic increase has been noted in the percentage of people who consider FETO to be a threat, from 1,3% in 2015 to 25,2% in 2016; hence becoming the second most burning issue for the country according to the participants.
The third biggest problem according to the public is unemployment, at 10,5%. This is followed by ‘high cost of living’ at 9,8%, which has nearly doubled compared to the 2015 result of 5,1%.
71% OF THE POPULATION THINKS THERE IS AN ECONOMIC CRISIS
The research findings show us that the citizens are not that happy about the state of economic affairs. A significant portion of society contends that the economy is in bad shape and the country is in economic crisis. However, 38,7% of the public also finds the government’s economic policies successful. While the government’s economic policies are evaluated to be successful especially by its own political constituency; in contrast supporters of the opposition political parties evaluate economic policies as being unsuccessful. 71,7% of the participants contends that Turkey is in economic crisis.
THE BIGGEST SUCCESS OF THE GOVERNMENT IS ITS FIGHT AGAINST FETO
According to the survey there is an even distribution in solutions proposed against terror. While in 2015, 31,6% of the citizens proposed military methods as a solution for terror, in 2016 this increased to 34,6%. Likewise, the percentage of people proposing political solutions for terror slightly increased from 30,9% in 2015 to 31,9% in 2016. When compared with findings of previous years, ‘cultural policies’ and ‘economic precautions’ are lagging.
The research also questioned the government’s performance in fighting against the PKK in the eyes of the participants. While in 2015 25% of the participants found the government’s fight against the PKK successful, this considerably increased to 35,6% in 2016. According to 45,8% of participants, the government was most successful in its fight against FETO.Half the public agree that FETO has political extensions; and 6 out of 10 people believe that FETO is still a threat. 71,4% of the population approves the methods used in the fight against FETO. According to public opinion, a coup attempt in the following one year is highly unlikely. While 23% of participants answers to this question were “Yes”, 57,3% answered “No”.
On the other hand, from 2015 to 2016 the research findings noted a decrease in the percentage of people thinking that Turkey faces the threat of division. The question “Do you think that Turkey is faced with the threat of division?” was replied to positively by 37,5% of the participants; this rate was 54,2% in 2015.
It was seen that ISIS is still considered to be a terrorist organization and a threat to Turkey. While in 2015 78% of the population considered ISIS to be a threat to Turkey, in 2016 this rate slightly decreased to 76,1%. 57% of citizens answered positively the question “Do you support Turkey’s participation in operations to drive ISIS out of Raqqa?”
Research findings also noted an increase in the percentage of participants finding the government’s performance regarding the Kurdish issue successful. While in 2015 this was 29,9%, it increased to 33,8% in 2016. Participants who saw the government’s approach as being unsuccessful decreased from 40% in 2015 to 31% in 2016.
OHAL (STATE OF EMERGENCY) IS SUPPORTED BUT NOT IT’S EXTENSION
59,8% of participants approved of the Declaration of a State of Emergency (OHAL) following the 15 July 2015 coup attempt; however, 48,5% are against the extension of OHAL. While 47,7% of the public approve of the government’s clamping down on the press within the context of OHAL, 44% do not approve.
32% IS FOR PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM
While The percentage of the population of the opinion that the unitary state is the appropriate administrative system for the country declined 16,2% between 2015 and 2016 to 52,7%, in the percentage of participants who are for the Presidential System increased from 22,1% in 2015 to 32,5% in 2016. A new system proposing to have a president linked to a political party, which was proposed in 2016, is supported by 10,5% of the participants. Thus, the sum of supporters of stating approval for a Presidential system or a President linked to a political party is 43%. The question “In the current system, do you approve of the President’s taking sides in political matters?” was answered “No” by 55% of participants; this rate was 75,4% in 2015.
PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC PARTY (HDP) DOES NOT REPRESENT THE KURDS
Only 22% of the participants agreed that the HDP represents the Kurdish people.
34,7% of the population think that “being Muslim” is the main factor binding together Turks and Kurds. While in 2015 53% of the participants wanted the resolution process torestart, in 2016 this decreased to 31,4%. It has been noted that a high percentage (75,4%) of HDP supporters wanted the resolution process to resume. While 64,4% of Turkish participants approved of the arrest of HDP deputies, 66,6% of Kurds opposed the arrests.
ALL PARTIES ARE SEEN AS BEING SUCCESSFUL BY THEIR CONSTITUENCIES EXCEPT THE HDP
According to the research findings while all political parties are seen to be successful by their constituencies, the HDP recorded a dramatic fall of 38,3% from 43,2% in 2015 to 4,9% in 2016. Political party leaders are found to be successful by their constituencies. Selahattin Demirtaş appears as the party leader who has been evaluated as the least successful by his own constituency. Among the participants, support for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is at 48,5%. Erdoğan gets the support of 87,6% of AK Party supporters. Erdoğan is also supported by 35,5% of MHP (the Nationalist Action Party) voters.
FOR THE FIRST TIME PUBLIC TRUST IN THE MILITARY HAS DECLINED
According to the research findings, the most trusted institution in Turkey is the Presidency, with 49,4% of the citizens declaring their trust in the Presidency. For the first time, trust in the military has declined in public opinion. While in 2015 the most trusted institution was the military chosen by 62,4% of the participants, in 2016 it became the second most trusted institution, at the same level as the police forces. The levels of trust in the military and trust in the police forces were equal at 47,4%.
The least trusted institution is the media at 15,1% of the participants. A radical decrease was noted in trust in YÖK/ÖSYM (Higher Educational Council/Student Selection and Placement Center) from 40% in 2015 to 22,1% in 2016.
SUPPORT GIVEN TO TURKEY’S EU MEMBERSHIP IS STILL DECREASING
While in 2015 65,1% of the public supported Turkey’s EU membership, this rate fell to 45,7% in 2016. Also a significant decrease was noted in people’s perception about the likelihood of Turkey’s EU membership from 38,3% in 2015 to 27% in 2016. Likewise, support given to Turkey’s continuing NATO membership has decreased 20% in the last two years. While the percentage was 76,2% in 2014, it decreased to 69,5% in 2015 and to 58% in 2016.
ISRAEL IS THE BIGGEST THREAT
Since 2011 the annual research has found that Israel was seen as the biggest threat to Turkey except in 2015. In 2015, with 64,7% of participants, the Russian Federation was seen as the biggest threat. However, in 2016, Israel is seen as the biggest threat, indicated by 73,3% of participants; followed by the USA in second and Syria in third place.