Are Turkish polls reliable?
These polls do not really answer the question of whether any candidate other than President Tayyip Erdoğan is going to win in the first round of voting on June 24. The forecasts mostly focus on whether the race will end with a first round victory for Erdoğan or whether there will be a second round on July 8 between the top two candidates.
The fact that parliamentary elections will be held simultaneously on June 24 makes the outlook even more complicated. Even if the presidential election is not completed in one round, the formation of parliament will be decided on June 24. So if the president is not elected in the first round then the top-placed candidate – most likely Erdoğan –may find themselves facing a situation where the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) does not have a parliamentary majority in the second round, despite the AK Parti’s alliance with Devlet Bahçeli’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Mustafa Destici’s Great Unity Party (BBP). If he ends up elected in the second round, Erdoğan may therefore end up with a parliament that does not pass every law that he sees as necessary.
There is another key issue. Following the recent statement of İYİ (Good) Party chair Meral Akşener, all parties in the opposition bloc have now pledged that they would lift the state of emergency - which was declared by the government after the July 2016 coup attempt - if they come to power. Erdoğan as president will again have the power to form a government and declare a state of emergency, capable of bypassing parliament, but parliament will still have the right to vote it down.
The election system is also complicated. Due to recent changes to the Election Law, Turkish voters will have to choose between alliances. On one side is the AK Parti-MHP-BBP and on the other side is the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the İYİ Party, the Felicity (Saadet) Party and the Democrat Party (DP). Also taking part will be the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is not a part of any alliance with other parties and will be bidding to enter parliament again by passing the 10 percent election threshold.
It even takes time to describe this system if someone from your family asks you to explain it. When the average voter goes to the polling station, they will be confronted by a rather complicated ballot paper that could easily confuse minds. So if in the current atmosphere and circumstances pollsters are able to ask correct questions to random people and get reliable answers then it is a big success indeed.
Considering the complexity of the picture, it is not easy to understand how and with what kind of resources the polling companies are able to produce such frequent and sensational results. Perhaps announcing the results of one poll after another is seen as a kind of PR campaign for pollsters. Perhaps it is simply part of the propaganda campaign for the parties they are close to. But for the time being at least these polls should be approached with caution, as almost all are far from reliable.
Many Turkish polling companies are not bad. From time to time they can produce good results. But in this case I think we need some more time before we see better estimates.