Conservatism in Turkey becomes more mainstream, survey shows
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
The survey shows that those registering uneasy feelings about uncovered women in Turkey totaled 52 percent in 2006 but dropped to 34.6 percent in 2012. It also shows that the rate of those saying they would feel uneasy about couples living together without being married was 60.9 in 2006, however it fell to 56.7 percent in 2012. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIKConservatism in Turkey, both politically and socially, has become milder and more mainstream in the course of 6 years, a recent survey supported by Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University and Open Society Foundation has revealed.
The percentage of those who “absolutely” consider themselves conservatives has dropped along with those who claim not to consider themselves conservative at all. In contrast the percentage of those who define themselves as moderately conservative increased. In 2006, 12.6 percent did not at all consider themselves to be conservative compared to only 8.6 percent recorded in 2012. Similarly in 2006 those who consider themselves to be absolutely conservative was 20.4 but dropped to 11.5 in 2012, the survey found.
Professor Hakan Yılmaz of Boğaziçi University conducted the survey and has concluded from its results that two specific changes in attitudes, which are seen in peoples’ private lives, can be interpreted as signs of an increase in moderation in conservatism. The first is the absence of change in the level or religiosity over the course of the last six years partnered with a slight drop in the level of high religiosity. The second is the drop in the feeling of uneasiness about different lifestyles.
Living together without marriage
While the rate of those saying they would feel uneasy about couples living together without being married was 60.9 in 2006, it fell to 56.7 percent in 2012. Those registering uneasy feelings about uncovered women totaled 52 percent in 2006 but dropped to 34.6 percent in 2012. In 2006, 64.6 percent or respondents said they would feel uneasy about others consuming alcohol, while in 2012 this percentage decreased to 52.2 percent. Furthermore, the number of respondents claiming they would feel uneasy with those patronizing bars or clubs was 60.5 percent, falling to 48.9 percent in 2012.
More people in Turkish society favor a status quo, according to the survey, which was conducted in 16 cities across the nation. Results found that those seeking change in the social and political life of the country decreased considerably. In 2012 those who said citizens’ lives should change registered at 40 percent compared to 63 percent in 2006. The demand for change becomes significant in economic life, however, with telling answers to the survey question: “What would you change in your life?” In 2012, 54.1 percent answered with the economic system, while in 2006 this percentage was 47.3 percent.
Demand for change in social and political life is nearly non-existent with the percentage of respondents wishing to change the state, family, political and social structure were very low in 2006 and continued to remain low in 2012.
Survey results showed that individualism has increased in Turkey, as more people opted for liberty over equality and solidarity as the most preferable essential value. Six years ago equality registered much higher. There was also a serious drop in solidarity.
Another finding that strengthens the idea that the trait of individualism has gained more prominence in Turkish society is that the number of people who favor making decisions according to traditions rather than personal desires has dropped. Meanwhile, there was no considerable improvement in people’s sensitivity on protecting individual rights. There was a slight increase in the percentage of respondents looking to protect political rights, for example those who said the state should never restrict the right to form associations and trade unions increased.
Majority of Turks worried about future finances
The survey found that an increased number of households perceive their financial situation as having worsened along with the perception that the economic situation will not improve in the near future.
The rate of those seeing themselves as middle or upper-middle class has dropped while the number of those who identify as below middle class has increased, according to a separate survey also conducted by Professor Hakan Yılmaz.Those who see themselves in the right and center have not changed, while those who see themselves in the left have increased significantly, jumping from 14.9 percent in 2006 to 20.2 percent currently. The number of people who said they did not believe in such polarization dropped from 10.2 percent to 6.5 percent.
Assimilation trends relating to ethnicity have also dropped while those who favor the recognition of ethnic identities increased. The percentage of those who believe secularism should continue as is without reform remained the same while the percentage of those believing moderate reform to be necessary increased slightly.
Religious identity of leaders
While the act of taking a person’s religious conviction into consideration when debating whether to befriend or marry someone has not changed much over the course of the last six years a significant change has been observed in weighing the religious conviction of party leaders during election times.
In 2006, 62.9 percent of voters claimed they took the party leader’s religious conviction into consideration when choosing which party to vote for. In 2012, this number increased to 71.9 percent.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also repeatedly commented on main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s Alevi identity several times during his speeches, nudging it more and more into the public spotlight.