Polarization in the elections

Polarization in the elections

The Turkish society has not yet reached a consensus on the very fundamental values, and this is Turkey’s main problem.

That is why we were and still are deeply polarized.

A research by İPSOS, based on the results of the 2018 elections, shows that people with lower education vote for the Justice and Development Party (AKP), whereas support for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) rises among people with higher education level.

Some 50 percent of people who supported the AKP, which secured 42.6 percent of the vote in the 2018 poll, are elementary school graduates or people with lower education. Support among university graduates for the CHP, which garnered 22.5 percent of the vote, reached 35 percent.

Data regarding the İYİ (Good) Party suggests support for the party is stronger among right-leaning voters with higher education level.

Expats’ votes

In the 2018 election, 59.44 of Turks living in Germany voted for the AKP, 14.82 percent for the CHP, 10.2 percent for the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and 7.28 percent for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

In the United States, 18.36 percent voted for the AKP, 49.21 percent for the CHP, 22.79 percent for the HHP and 5.71 percent for the MHP.

The Turks who settled in Germany are mostly workers who migrated from Anatolia to Germany. In the U.S., there are fewer Turks and they are mostly students, professionals, academics and entrepreneurs.

This shows how the social status affects voting behavior.

Historical polarization

This segmentation that started with the Ottoman bureaucracy has become sharper with mutual prejudices through our modernization. The polarization that embodied in the discourses such as “ignorant commons” and “a la Franga” (referring to Western style) became the subject of our literature starting with Recaizade’s “Araba Sevdası.”

Those prejudices created deep and sharp polarization in politics. At the rallies organized by Adnan Menderes during the 1950s you would see people with flat caps, while at the gatherings of İsmet İnönü you would see well-dressed people with fedoras.

Even though urbanization, education and market economy have progressed over the years we have not yet overcome the polarization we inherited from the past. But at the same time a change is in underway.

University educated people do not swing from one side to the other. On the contrary, the conservatives who used to live in their confines and the Alevis are producing their own representatives, intellectuals and entrepreneurs.

The Republican political line stopped using the ideological concepts of the One Party Rule with late Bülent Ecevit.

In the 2018 election, the old “religion-secularism” quarrels did not erupt. The AKP keeps reminding the One Party Rule era but CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu did not chose to use the language of the One Party Rule period. CHP’s presidential candidate Muharrem İnce also distances himself from this language, trying to reach out to other segments of the society.

Grand consensus

The polarization we inherited from the past was actually not between “progressivists and reactionaries.” It was the tension between “center,” which is made up of the educated, well-off people and people have the power of the state on their side, and the “periphery” of the masses that are deprived of all those privileges.

People of the periphery wanted to have schools, hospitals, access to public services and jobs.

On this subject, I strongly recommend Şerif Mardin’s book “Türk Modernleşmesi –Modernity in Turkey,” published by İletişim Yayınları.

For a period of time education, urbanization and the development of the economy sharpened the polarization, at one point they make inroads into the old neighborhoods. The notions such as “freedom, pluralist democracy, law, equality,” “do not touch my clothes” and “women’s right” are increasingly gaining currency, replacing the old inflammatory concepts.

“The separation of powers” has never been talked about in the past.

Turkey’s future does not lay with one side suppressing the other side.

Turkey’s future depends on reaching a social consensus on the values such as law, freedom, justice, democracy, market economy, and entrepreneurship.

Is it not the case with the developed nations?

Every move toward this direction is good and every obstacle on this path is bad.

June 24 elections, Turkish politics, Taha Akyol