Generation Z to hold key to Turkey’s future as millions of new voters set to cast ballots in 2023 polls
Çiğdem Yılmaz - ISTANBUL
Millions of Turkish youth will vote for the first time in their lives in the general elections in 2023, as parties are expected to put those who are seen as holding a key to the country’s future at the heart of their campaigns, according to a research conducted by daily Milliyet.
“Generation Z is a very political generation contrary to popular belief that they are apolitical. The only difference is that their political views are not stable; they determine politics temporally,” said Murat Şeker, the head of the City Politics Center at Istanbul University.
Gen Z, the world’s first digital natives who have never known a world without internet in their pocket, make up 39 percent of Turkey’s population, according to data compiled by Milliyet. Twenty percent of them, therefore a little over 5 million of members of Gen Z, will vote for the first time in their lives in Turkey’s general elections in 2023. One million of them will be new voters in Istanbul, the country’s largest city by population, in 2023.
“Since their birth, the country has been governed by the same political party,” said Şeker.
They do not know a Turkey without the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). That’s why, according to Şeker, it is important to understand that they do not care about the past Turkey and comparisons made to indicate the old Turkey is nothing to long for.
Turkish people are familiar with the concept of “the Father State,” a term meaning that the state is like a father who cares for his citizens. But Gen Z does not see the state as their father, he added.
“The state is no longer a father to them. They see it as an organization that must serve them,” added Şeker, stressing that they are well aware of global trends and are able to evaluate things in line with the patterns in the rest of the world. They see the mistakes of all political movements and can easily change their minds.
Şeker also said that the generation is a competitive one, so they yearn for more and what’s best for them. They do not dream of buying a house at some point in their life, a major difference from their parents’ generation. They defy the idea of being stuck in a place, but want to travel the world.
According to a survey by the City Politics Research Center, 23 percent of Generation Z do not care about politics. Only 10 percent find themselves close to religion. Some 78 percent said they judge everything, and that their priorities are the problems in the education and judicial system in the country.
A 19-year-old youth, who asked to be identified only with the initials S.C., said they do not care about politics. “Leftist or right-winger, I have no hope for the country.”
“I don’t care about people’s religious beliefs. I take their conscience into consideration, not their religion,” said another 19-year-old youth, identified only as B.S.Ç.
“Those who do not respect me, my lifestyle or my choices should not expect to respect them,” said a 16-year-old.