Votes shifted between AKP and MHP, says top pollster
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The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) managed to maintain its votes in the June 24 elections thanks to some Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters who voted for the nationalist party, according to a leading pollster.
“The [voting] movement took place within the [AKP-MHP] bloc, not towards the other side,” Bekir Ağırdır, the general director of the Istanbul-based research company Konda, has told the Hürriyet Daily News.
“The only movement towards the other side was from the MHP to the İYİ (Good) Party. But the MHP maintained its votes because it became the address for those who were dissatisfied with the AKP but did not want to vote for the opposition bloc,” Ağırdır said.
You argue Turkey is divided in three and these elections have produced the same political map.
On one side, there is a geography where people are socioeconomically more developed; with a secular lifestyle prioritizing freedoms and rule of law, who want the state to have less of a role in the economy because they have consolidated their own economic dynamics. They make up between 25 to 35 percent.
On the other hand, there is another geography where people are trying to become urbanized, who are in need of state services and investment as their own economic and educational dynamics are weak and who prioritize the welfare of the household rather than freedoms. This constitutes around 60 percent (of the population.) Then there is the geography of Kurdish citizens, of who around 60 to 65 percent vote for the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP).
You claim elections are nothing but a census as these three stick to their groups. The CHP claims there has been an unfair campaign period; does that mean that if it was fair, the outcome would have been the same?
We would not have seen a different picture had the CHP spoken about building a common life or a dream for the future encompassing all these three groups.
Was this not voiced by the CHP presidential candidate Muharrem İnce?
He said “we are not your enemy.” He did not say “we will build the future together.” He said “I will come to power and I will not do anything against you.” This is not enough. Secular voters suffer from the feeling of losing and they are only realizing they are a minority.
İnce gave them this confidence. But you have to inspire confidence in the other group who is fearful of the rhetoric of those voting for İnce. The rhetoric in the streets at the rallies in Istanbul and İzmir has scared them. If İnce wants to sets the nation free of its conflict of identities, he needs to win the confidence of the other side to build a common life, because there is a common space among them where the common denominator is education and the rule of law.
We will look at all numbers for each ballot box in certain areas. Indeed, there seems to be a rise of 100 thousand (votes for the MHP). We should not focus on ratios, they could be misleading. After all, if there is a rise in a village from 2,000 to 3,000, this means a rise of 50 percent, but this might not attest to a meaningful rise. It could be the votes of the security personnel. However, we will examine ballot boxes where there has been a radical rise.
Suspicions about the results are due to perception rather than reality. In our poll dated June 10, 46 percent said they had doubts about election night. Fifty-seven percent said the elections would not be fair.
One out of every four AKP supporter has said elections were unfair, one out of 10 AKP supporters have said some illegal incidents would happen on the night of the elections. Technical difficulties came on top of this negative perception. Nearly a million people organized that night and the Fair Elections Platform (set up by four opposition parties), as well as NGOs need to come up with a report to concretely satisfy the public on whether there was fraud or not.
Some still have difficulty on understanding how his supporters still keep voting for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan despite all these economic troubles.
They cannot save themselves from being the prisoners of identity politics and polarization. Erdoğan succeeds in manipulating his voters. That is why we have gone to the ballot box four times in five years. Each election turns to identity issues. Instead of debating real issues like the economy, unemployment, the debates evolve around “should we let go Erdoğan or not?” When the debate turns into that, even people who have begun looking critically at the AKP cannot defect from them. The ones who did not vote for the AKP voted for the MHP but did not move into the other bloc.
Some claim Erdoğan wins because his voters are utterly ignorant.
That is unfair. Their education level may be lower than Turkey’s national average, but they do not vote for Erdoğan out of ignorance.
This is exactly what happened. The (voting) movement took place within the bloc but not outside. The only movement outside was from the MHP to the İYİ (Good) Party. But the MHP maintained its votes because it has become the address of those who are dissatisfied from the AKP but who do not want to cross into the other bloc.
Even if they have not voiced it like that, in the end this is the role given to the MHP.
You said AKP voters are fearful of the other bloc? What are they afraid of exactly?
Conservatives are afraid of losing their current gains, like being able to send their headscarfed daughter to school or have her employed in public institutions. While in the past, they struggled to say “we are here too” against secularists, they now feel their whole life will be dominated and are also afraid of losing the desire to govern the country. They have tasted power and they like it. The status they have gained in society and the economic interests make them happy. So currently, the fear goes beyond a simple anxiety of not being able to send their daughter to school.
It will continue for some time. Two critical sentences have been voiced by MHP: We are the critical party and we were given the role of checks and balances. It is the first time MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has used the expression “checks and balances.” This is a message to Erdoğan. He says “I will not do everything you want from me.”
WHO IS BEKİR AĞIRDIR?
Bekir Ağırdır is the general director of the Istanbul-based research company Konda.
He was born in 1956 in Çal, Denizli, later graduating from the Department of Business Administration at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ).
Ağırdır worked at the computing service department of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) between 1979 and 1980, and then at Bilsan Bilgisayar Malzemeleri A.Ş. between 1980 and 1984. He later worked as the CEO of Meteksan LLC. and of Pırıntaş Bilgisayar Malzemeleri ve Basım San. A.Ş., as well as the vice CEO of Atılım Kağıt ve Defter Sanayi A.Ş.
Between 2003 and 2005, Ağırdır worked at the History Foundation of Turkey, first as a coordinator and then as director general.
He is also the founder of the Democratic Republican Program.