Public trust in fair elections declining in Turkey
Increasing numbers of people in Turkey believe that elections in the country are not held fairly and vote counts are not trustworthy, according to an important new survey, which also reveals a sharp difference on the issue between supporters of the government and opposition parties.
The rate of Turkish citizens who believe that “elections will not be fair” has increased from 28 percent in 2007 to 43 percent in 2015, according to the survey conducted by academics Ali Çarkoğlu and S. Erdem Aytaç with the support of the Open Society Institute, Koç University, and the Ohio State University School of Communication.
In 2007, 70 percent of respondents said they believed that the elections would be fair, but this rate decreased to 43 percent in 2015, according to the survey, titled “Public Opinion Dynamics ahead of June 2015 elections.”
The alarming results come ahead of the June 7 general election, when Turkish citizens will vote for the lawmakers who will form the new government.
Combined with the sharp increase in the rate of distrust in fair elections, there is a sharp difference between respondents who plan to vote for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and those who plan to vote for the opposition parties.
Among AKP voters, only 11 percent said “the elections will not be fair,” while this rate is 69 percent among those who will vote for one of the opposition parties, according to the survey, conducted among 2,201 respondents in 49 provinces through face-to-face interviews between March 19 and April 26.
A large majority of opposition voters, 72 percent, do not trust that the votes will be counted fairly on the evening of June 7 elections. In contrast, just 15 percent of AKP supporters said they believed that votes will be counted fairly.
Overall, 45 percent of voters said they believed the votes will be counted fairly after the ballot boxes are closed, while 46 percent of voters do not believe that vote counting will be fairly conducted.
Meanwhile, the rate of Turkish citizens who believe that “democracy does not work well” in Turkey increased from 39 percent in 2013 to 45 percent in 2015, the survey also revealed. The government-opposition divide is also observable here, with a majority of AKP voters saying they think democracy is working well in the country, while only a minority of those voting for opposition parties think the same.
The results of the survey come after the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) took notice of concerns in Turkey over conduct of a fair and safe election next month.
“The election campaign started on March 10 and is expected to be dynamic and potentially hard fought, due to the continued polarization between the governing party and opposition parties,” stated a Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) report by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE.