Deep divisions in Turkey in democracy as election nears, Pew survey says

Todays Zaman
Publication date: 
Oct 16 2015

According to a survey released by the Pew Research Center on Thursday, Turks are split on whether democracy in their country is working while positive perception of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is at its lowest point since 2012.

The survey of 947 people, which was conducted between April 5 and May 15, showed the majority of Turks still prefer a democratic form of government rather than a leader with a strong hand.

The Pew report underlined that the public is split evenly on the way democracy in their country is working: A total of 49 percent are satisfied while 49 percent are dissatisfied. However, members of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and supporters of Erdoğan's electoral coalition are significantly more satisfied with the current state of democracy.

The report noted Turks who are older, less educated, those who support AK Party and Muslims who pray five times a day are significantly more satisfied with the current state of democracy. On the other hand, younger, more educated Turks, followers of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and less devout Muslims are more disillusioned.

The political deadlock after the June election forced Erdoğan to call for a snap election on Nov. 1.

The Pew report also said Turks have mixed views on democracy, with many dissatisfied with the direction their country is heading in. Rising prices, crime and inequality are listed as the biggest issues bothering Turks.

“As far as trust in national institutions, the military is the only one Turks say has a good influence on the country. Views of the police, national government, religious leaders and the courts are mixed, while views of the media tilt to the negative. Additionally, 52 percent of Turks think their children will be worse off financially in the future,” the report stated.

According to survey, which was conducted in spring, 67 percent of Turks say fewer refugees should be allowed into the country while only 36 percent wanted the country to join the anti-Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) coalition.

In terms of foreign relations, the majority in Turkey (55 percent) still favor joining the European Union, a figure that has not changed much in the last five years. Turks still have negative opinions of every major world powers, including the US (58 percent unfavorable), NATO (50 percent) and the European Union (49 percent), the report said. In addition, 54 percent say Turkey should be more respected around the world than it currently is.