AKP’s voters want to have calmer policy on Syria : poll
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan adresses a crowd in Misrata Square in Libya while visiting the country September 2011 after its leader Moammar Gadhafi was toppled in an uprising. AA photoThe government’s foreign policy performance is among the primary reasons for the electorate to vote for the Justice and Development Party (AKP), according to a pollster for the governing party.
While the electorate wants a calmer approach on Syria, there is no fear of a hot conflict with the country, said İbrahim Uslu, the general manager of the Ankara Social Research Center (ANAR), which conducts periodic surveys for the ruling AKP.
“The AKP’s foreign policy success, position and rhetoric are among the primary reasons for the electorate to vote for the party,” Uslu told the Hürriyet Daily News in a recent interview. “The prestige gained by Turkey in the international arena, the fact that it is again becoming a powerful country [and] the praise voiced by other countries’ peoples stoke the pride of the Turkish people,” he said.
When asked whether Turkey’s zero problem policy is now criticized as a failure as it has currently strained relations with some of its neighbors, namely Syria and Iraq, Uslu replied that the voters did not appreciate foreign policy because of smooth relations with other countries. On the contrary, the electorate’s appreciation stemmed from the fact that Turkey is powerful enough to impose what it wants and prevent what it does not desire from happening. “Problems might occur but that does not change the fact that Turkey’s international posture has become more powerful. Is there any backing down from that positioning? According to the electorate the answer is no. The electorate feels Turkey is still very powerful,” said Uslu.
The voters do not support a hot conflict with Syria but do not fear a war with Syria, according to Uslu. “Turkish society has gained self confidence in that respect. It is fearless about entering a hot conflict if it is necessary due to what happens around Turkey or due to threats. But does it want war? No. Voters want a calmer approach and think there is no reason to increase the tension,” he said. In addition to the AKP’s achievements in foreign policy, its general performance also explains the 53 percent support of the electorate, a figure which has shown no tendency to decrease since the June 11, 2011 elections.
AKP successful for those not voted for it: Uslu
“Even those who do not vote for the Ak Party find the government successful on education, health, transportation or the fight against corruption,” said Uslu. “There is a slight problem with the economy but people look at the developments in the world, they are aware that problems do not stem from the government and don’t blame the government.” The government’s performance is not enough, however, to explain the support for the AKP. “Political identities are also playing an important role.
Ever since the early days of the republic there is always serious leaning toward a right-wing conservative party. In addition there is compassion and commitment to the presence of a charismatic leader,” he said. The AKP’s Kurdish electorate seems not to have abandoned the ruling party despite incidents such as Uludere, where civilians thought to be terrorists were bombed, and despite the perception among intellectuals that the government has started to lean more on military measures.
“There are implementations that came with the democratic opening. Is there any backing down from them?” asked Uslu. When asked about KCK arrests, Uslu replied: “The electorate looks at the general picture. It does not punish a government that has performed so well so far. We saw during the last elections that the AK Party is Kurds’ first party.” The Kurdish electorate is aware of the complexity of the issue and therefore knows that it cannot be solved quickly, according to Uslu. The Kurdish electorate is still convinced that the AKP is the only one to solve the problem, he said.
‘Female voters positive’
While it is currently still early to judge the reactions to the abortion debates, the female electorate is happy with the AKP, said Uslu. “Women have a more positive attitude toward the AKP than men, since 55 percent of the AKP’s voters are women,” he said. Women voters do not have the perception that the AKP gives them a secondary role in society, assuming mainly the mission of motherhood, according to Uslu.
“Women see in Erdoğan a good son, a good husband and a good father,” he said. Among those who did not vote for the AKP, Uslu said the ratio of those concerned about lifestyles were higher among women. “But let’s not forget that not one in every two men in the street voted for the AK Party. But more than one in two women has voted for the AK Party,” he said.