The numbers tell a different Turkey
Turkey is slowly approaching a breaking point in politics and economics, and its citizens surely have that inner-gut feeling about where the country is heading. Research company Metropoll’s latest polls show an interesting turn in the numbers. Those who say things will be better in the country show a dramatic slip, from 42.7 percent to 36.2 percent, since September 2014. Moreover, those who say things will get worse show a sharp increase, up to 51.5 percent.
Numbers are not everything in politics, and they rarely change. Metropoll founder Özer Sencar said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are still holding strong at 45 percent for the June elections, and voters see no dramatic change in the near future. Sencar believes that the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is the definitive factor in this summer’s parliamentary elections, similar to how Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voters were in last year’s presidential election. Talking to me on the phone, he said the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) “unfortunately does not seem to create excitement, nor is it seen as an alternative to the AKP.”
For young voters, women, Alevis, Kurds and all others locked on the sidelines of this administration, there is very little room to maneuver. People are becoming more and more apathetic to events and the changes surrounding them. There is a general mistrust of the political system and, more dangerously, of democracy.
Take a look at the poll numbers related to the Charlie Hebdo killings. Some 26 percent of AKP voters believes that anyone who insults the Prophet Muhammad deserves to die, while 60 percent of them believe the attack was wrong. Some 57 percent of AKP voters legitimize and normalize the killings as a “foreign service operation,” while 33 percent of them think violence can be accepted in certain cases in defense of Islam. Again, 33 percent of the AKP’s supporters argue that the state should not be secular (while 52 percent still believe it should remain secular).
This is a very confused mind. It shows small signs of reason, questioning and challenge, but also absolute faith in the leader, his cause and religion. Turkey’s secularists, modernists and intelligentsia have an uphill battle to win. If 80 years of positive education and secular government has brought us only this far, and if a nation can be so easily torn to pieces in just 12 years, there is a lot of ground to be covered to become a global power.
But, to come back to reality, let us be a bit self-critical. According to Metropoll’s latest survey, those who are in favor of the HDP passing the 10 percent election threshold number only 18 percent. Among AKP voters, it is down to 10 percent and among CHP voters it is 15 percent. Would this picture create a Syriza? Not unless the HDP puts forward real and respected figures as candidates. “They should stay away from celebrities, journalists and movie stars, but instead genuinely consider honest leftists and real pious, conservative reference personalities,” Sencar says.
The big question is, will it? And why should it? HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş, in his latest TV interview on NTV, said that if the HDP fails to pass the 10 percent threshold, they will immediately push for early elections. It seems that the scary scenario of Kurds leaving parliament and self-declaring autonomy is not just a scenario.
Slowly, we are growing apart from each other. Our priorities, our lives, and our hopes have never been so different. Can Turkey break these chains and create a more prosperous, free, equal and honest nation? Only if it says “YES WE CAN!” We should be doing that.