As Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) rejected the appeal of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to cancel the April 16 referendum because of fraud claims, the first public opinion poll following the referendum, which approved the replacement of the parliamentarian system with an executive presidential model, has provided interesting results regarding the profile of voters in Turkey.
The survey was carried out by IPSOS for CNN Türk on the day after the referendum, April 17, with 1,501 respondents in all 81 provinces in Turkey.
Despite ongoing controversy about the result – 51.4 percent “yes” versus 48.6 percent “no” – the survey shows that President Tayyip Erdoğan was the most influential leader on the result for both the “yes” and “no” votes. The survey doesn’t indicate exactly whether it would have been possible for Erdoğan to win if he had not lent his personal weight, but it notes that Erdoğan was the only leader to really influence the votes for 91 percent of “yes” voters and 78 percent of “no” voters.
One of the most striking results of the survey regards the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which backed the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Parti) constitutional amendment package. According to the survey, 73 percent of voters who said they voted for the MHP in the last general elections on Nov. 1, 2015 said “no” in the referendum, contradicting the call of their party leader, Devlet Bahçeli. The rejection rate among the MHP grassroots in Turkey’s five largest cities was as high as 80 percent. Bahçeli’s decision to back Erdoğan’s presidential modal caused a crack within the party, prompting Bahçeli to expel influential party figures because they said they were going to say “no.” The survey also showed that 5 percent of social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) voters and 9 percent of voters for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which focuses on the Kurdish issue, said “yes” despite their parties’ stance. On the other hand, 10 percent of AK Parti voters opted for “no” despite the will of their founder, Erdoğan. In the end, the drift from the “yes” side in the AK Parti camp was as high as 13 percent in the five largest cities, Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Adana and Bursa.
According to the survey, 86 percent of the yea-sayers and 88 percent of the naysayers had already made up their mind when the referendum was called, which shows that the referendum campaigns more or less affected only 12-14 percent of people who were initially undecided.
Despite Erdoğan’s emphasis on reducing the age to be elected to 18, 58 percent of voters who voted for the first time objected to the constitutional changes.
The survey showed that the approval rate for the executive presidency was 70 percent among primary school graduates or less. On the other hand, 61 percent of university said “no,” meaning that the survey shows that as the education level of voters went up, so did the “no” votes.
According to the survey, 51 percent of voters living in urban areas said “no,” whereas 62 percent of voters in rural areas said “yes.”
The IPSOS/CNN Türk survey also showed that 65 percent housewives approved the constitutional changes, whereas 58 percent of women who said they were unemployed objected.
Another interesting outcome of the survey is that just 59 percent of the naysayers said they expected the situation in Turkey would worsen; naturally, 88 percent of yea-sayers said they thought everything would improve.