The 2018 results of the “Social and Political Trends in Turkey” (TSSEA) research were announced

04 February 2019 - Monday

THE MOST IMPORTANT PROBLEMS OF TURKEY ARE UNEMPLOYMENT, HIGH COST OF LIVING AND THE DEPRECIATION OF the TURKISH LIRA
The 2018 results of the “Social and Political Trends in Turkey” research, which measures the Turkish public opinion on political, social, economic, security and cultural issues, conducted every year since 2010 by an academic team under the coordination of Prof. Mustafa Aydın from Kadir Has University, were announced.

According to the results of the TSSEA -2018, Turkish people regard the unemployment, high cost of living and the depreciation of Turkish Lira as the most significant problems facing Turkey. While the terror as a problem has decreased in public perception, FETÖ is still seen as a serious threat.

Prof. Sondan Durukanoğlu Feyiz, the Rector of Kadir Has University, highlighting that Kadir Has University is a research university, said that the Research on the Social and Political Trends in Turkey has been an important part of Kadir Has University’s claim to be a research university.. She said: “We objectively measure the public opinion. We saw the unemployment as the most important problem this year with 27 percent, while it was seen as the third most important problem in 2017 with 17 percent.”

The results of the 2018 “Research on Social-Political Trends in Turkey” were presented to the press on Wednesday, January 30, 2018, with the participation of the research team, comprised of Prof. Mustafa Aydın, Prof. Murat Güvenç, Prof. Osman Zaim, Prof. Mitat Çelikpala, Prof Dr Banu Baybars, Dr. Emrah Karaoğuz, and Dr. Cihan Dizdaroglu, as well as Prof. Sondan Durakoğlu Feyiz, the rector of Kadir Has University.

The Survey on Social and Political Trends in Turkey was conducted between 12 December 2018 and 4 January 2019 through face to face interviews with thousand respondents, representing country's population aged 18 and over, residing in the city centers of 26 cities, who answered questions on politics, economic developments, social relations and international issues.

THE SURVEY RESULTS WERE AFFECTED BY THE CHANGES IN VOTERS’ PREFERENCES
It was ascertained that the most crucial changes in the results of the 2018 Survey were in consequence of the disengagement experienced some of the political party loyalists, which were determined according to the votes given in the General Elections on 24 June 2018. The rates concerning the government’s policies in different political domains, confidence in institutions and the happiness of living in Turkey significantly changed since last year’s results as a result of the changes of Turkish public’s stance in the political spectrum and the political disengagement form their parties.

WHILE PIOUSNEES INCREASING, CONSERVATISM DECREASES
The concept of “Pious” or “Devoted” was added as a separate political category to the research in 2015 to distinguish their preferences from “conservatives”, and since then its percentage has continuously increased, reaching to 30,9 percent in 2018. Meanwhile those who define themselves as politically conservative have continously declined and reached to 13,5 percent in 2018. On the other hand, while those who define themselves as “Republican/Kemalist” increased 1 point in comparison to 2017 and became 16,9 percent in 2018, those who define themselves as “Social Democrates” decreased 4 points and are found to be 6,3 percent. While the sum of the categories of “Religious” and “Conservative” increased from 37,1 percent in 2014 to 47,4 percent in 2017, it went down to 44,4 percent in 2018.

THE MOST CRUCIAL PROBLEMS ARE UNEMPLOYMENT AND HIGH COST OF LIVING
According to the survey results, people consider the FETÖ threat and the fight against terrorism as the most important problems after the rising unemployment rate and high cost of living in 2018. The unemployment was seen as the third most serious problem with 17 percent in 2017, but it reached to 27 percent this and became the first among the problems the country is facing according to the Turkish public.

WE FEEL WORSE ABOUT THE ECONOMIC SITUATION
According to the survey results, while 57,1 percent of the population indicated that they were economically performed worse in 2018 compared to 2017, though 21 percent replied that they were not affected by the economic developments in 2018. According to the survey, the “government’s economic policies” that had increasingly been found “successful” since 2016, decreased 14,2 points and were found as “successful” with 33,5 percent in 2018. While those identifying themselves as conservative or pious found the government’s economic policies “successfull” in particular, those defining themselves as social democrates and Republican/Kemalist found “unsuccessful”.

SUPPORT FOR THE CROSS-BORDER MILITARY ACTIONS DECREASES
Reduction from 56,4 to 45,1 percent for the support to the cross-border military actions was observed, though “Euphrates Shield” and “Olive Branch” operations were found to be successful by the Turkish public. There is 4 percent decrease for those finding the government’s Syria policies “successful” comparing with 2017. When we examine the results based on the policial parties, AK Party voters find the government’s Syria policies more “successful”, while the ratio of finding “successful” is lower among other party voters.
While 61 percent of AK Party voters found the government’s foreign policy “successful”, only 30,5 percent of MHP voters, 21,2 percent of CHP voters and 7 percent of HDP voters found it successful.
While 58,7 percent of the Turkish people indicate that they prefer Turkey’s NATO membership to continue, 41,9 percent of the respondents think that Turkey can provide its own security without being a NATO member; however, 34,8 percent think that Turkey cannot. While there is not a significant change from the last year on the opinion concerning the NATO membership, the opinion regarding the continuation of the EU membership negotiations increased 5,3 points and became 48,9 percent. Even so, this ratio is lower than the previous years, which came as 71,4 percent in 2015, 65,1 percent in 2015.
On the other hand; according to the survey results, 18,8 percent of the respondents think that “Turkey is in danger of being divided”. This rate was 28,8 percent in 2017.

THE MOST THREAT TO TURKEY COMES FORM THE USA; THE ONLY FRIEND IS AZERBAIJAN
USA ranked first in 2018 as the country posing the biggest threat to Turkey with the increase of 17,6 points from 2017 and reaching 81,9 percent of the participants. Israel ranked second among the countries posing the biggest threat to Turkey with 63,3 percent. Azerbaijan was again reported as the most friendly country to Turkey with 63,6 percent approval. Azerbaijan was fallowed by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Pakistan. The response to the question of “which countries Turkey should cooperate in its foreign policy”, was returned as the “Muslim Countries” as the most favoured group with 19,6 percent; it was followed by Russia with 18,2 percent, and those who replied “Turkey should act alone in its international relatiosn” with 17,5 percent.

ISTANBUL MUNICIPAL MAYOR SHOULD BE A “PIOUS MUSLIM”
The question of “Which characteristics should a mayor of X city have?” was responded as “Pious Muslim” in the first rank and “hardworking” as the second rank in Istanbul; while “hardworking” and “honest and honorable” were the first two choices for Ankara and Izmir. While the major problem for Istanbul was identified as the “traffic jam” with 36,5 percent, the “infrastructure problems” were the main problems with 41 percent in Ankara and 46 percent in Izmir.
According to the survey results, both “candidate” and “political party” have similar importance for the local elections in Turkey on 31 March. While the impact of the “candidate” is 50,6 percent, the impact of the “political party” is seen as 49,4 percent.

POLITICAL VACUUM IS IN THE “CENTRE” AND IN THE “LEFT”
While only 28,6 percent of the respondents think that there is a political vacuum in Turkish political spectrum, 51,4 percent think that there is no vacuum. Moreover, when asked “Where do you see this vacuum in the political spectrum?” to those thinking that there is a political vacuum, the biggest vacuum was found in the “centre” with 35,7 percent and in the “left” with 30,8 percent. On the other hand, while those thinking that there is a political vacuum constitutes 42,4 percent of CHP voters and 44,4 percent of HDP voters. They were followed by MHP voters with 29,5 percent and AK Party voters with 13,3 percent.
Despite a reduction from last year, 30,8 percent of respondents think that there is a politicization of the judiciary system. Also, those said “yes” to the question “Do you think that there is a political polarization in Turkey?” decreased to 38,8 percent this year.

THE MOST TRUSTED INSTITUTION: GENDARMERIE
When respondents were asked which institutions were the most trusted, the gendarmerie became prominent this year. All institutions except the gendarmerie stayed under 55 percent. While the confidence in presidency was 56,5 percent in 2017, this year it was reported as 44,1 percent. There was a general decline of trust in institutions. The trust in the Army decreased from 60 percent to 51,2 percent. Despite this reduction, it keeps its ranking in the second place. The least trusted institution was again media with 31,9 percent.

THOSE WHO ARE HAPPY TO LIVE IN TURKEY ARE DECLINING <
When asked “Are you happy to live in Turkey?”, 38,8 percent of the respondents answered “I am happy”, and 19,8 percent replied “I am unhappy”. When we analyze the results according to the political party voters, those who are most happy to live in Turkey are AK Party voters, while MHP, CHP and HDP voters are mostly appear as “neither happy nor unhappy”.
According to the survey results, 20 percent of the populations would prefer living abroad if they have an opportunity. The main reason for this preference is the “economy”. When we examine the results based on the voters, the first group of “those preferring to live abroad” is the HDP voters with 33 percent. This was followed by the CHP voters with 21,7 percent, MHP voters with 17,9 percent, and AK Party voters with 10,1 percent

60,9% OF THE RESPONDENTS DO NOT READ BOOK; 81,4% DO NOT GO TO THE THEATER
According to the survey results, those who “do not read books at all” increased 8,1 points reaching to 60,9 percent this year. Those reading “one day in a month or less” increased 4,1 points and became 15,3 percent. However, the number of the books read in a year accrued 0,4 point and increased from 5,4 to 5,8 percent. When asked “How often do you read newspapers?”, 57,5 percent of the respondents replied “I do not read newspapers”. Moreover, the frequency of reading a newspaper also declined comparing to 2017, reaching to only 2,9 days in a week.
81,4 percent of the respondents indicated that they do not ever go to a theater. The frequency of those going to the theater also decreased from last year’s 1,3 days to 0,9 days in a month. The rate of those “who do not go to the cinema at all” decreased from 37,6 to 35,3 percent, and the frequency of going to the cinema was reduced from 1,5 days to 0,9 days in a month.
When asked “Which events do you participate apart from theatre and cinema?” and “How many times in a year?”; “Football Match” was the first answer with 19 percent of the respondents who said that on average they attended a Football Game 7,1 times in a year. While the annual average of the “football game” increased from 4,8 to 7,1 times; the ratio of the people going to this event was reduced from 24,1 to 19 percent. “Football” was followed by “pop music concert”, “other sports competitions”, “exhibitions”, and “Turkish classical music or folk music concerts” with decreasing frequencies and percentages compared to the last year’s results.
In comparison with the last year, “the daily average time of watching TV” increased 0,6 hours and found as 3,5 hours per day on average. According to the survey results, 94,3 percent of the Turkish society watches TV. When we analyze the results of watching TV based on political affiliation, political opinion and regions, there is no indication for serious differences among the groups.

GAY NEIGHBOUR IS NOT PREFERED
According to the survey results, gay people are the least preferred group as a neighbour with 53,8 percent. This was followed by “asylum seekers/refugees” with 45,8 percent. The most preferred neighbours are “Turks” with 57,4 percent and “Sunnites” with 48,6 percent. While “Armenians” with 33,5 percent and “Rums” with 31 percent are the least preferred neighbors with ethnic identities, the “Turks” with 57,4 percent and “Arabs” with 30,1 percent are the most preferred neighbours with different ethnic identities. Nevertheless, the tolerance to get in contact and establish social relations with different groups in Turkey is appeared to be increasing in overall.

Click for TSSEA 2018 results.