Coalition partner nationalists are the happiest in Turkey
Istanbul’s Kadir Has University revealed last week an opinion poll on social, economic and political trends in Turkey, which they have been doing consecutively for the past 10 years.
Headed by Professor Mustafa Aydın, the research team’s findings, which they call Turkish trends, give us some important clues about the state of affairs in Turkey.
Looking at the statistics, one phenomenon that comes out crystal clear is the satisfaction of the voters of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). which is the unofficial partner of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
In 2017 only 51 percent of the MHP voters had found their party to be performing well. This rate went up to 63 in 2018 and 72.7 percent in 2019.
By contrast, the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) voters are not happy with their party. Their appreciation level was 75 percent in 2017; it went down to 63 percent in 2018 and 52 percent in 2019. There is a similar downward trend in finding HDP leaders successful.
In addition, with 30 percent, HDP voters are the biggest group to believe that there is a need for a new party in Turkey, this is followed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) by 23 percent.
For President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well, there is a downward trend in terms of being found successful by his voters, with 92 percent in 2017, 84 percent in 2018 and 82 percent in 2019.
All of the leaders experience a downward trend in terms of being appreciated by their voters; the only exception being MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli. While 52 percent of his voters found him successful in 2017, this rate went up to 69 percent in 2018 and 2019.
The police ranked third by the poll as the most trusted institution in Turkey. The highest vote came from MHP sympathizers. In 2018 only 55.8 percent of those surveyed had ranked police forces as the institution they trust the most. This rate went up to 77.3 percent in 2019. This can be interpreted as more MHP sympathizers having found jobs within the police
So, in short, the data is telling us that MHP voters are happy to have been an unofficial partner of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). This phenomenon can also be explained by the fact that the unhappy have left and formed the İYİ (Good) Party.
Other statistics that prove MHP voter satisfaction is the one on the economy. With 48.9 percent, MHP voters are the biggest group to find the government’s economic policies successful, this is at 48.8 percent among AK Party voters.
The numbers are also telling us that the gap between MHP and İYİ Party is widening. The supporters of the two parties are showing different stances. For example, while nearly 32 percent of MHP voters prefer parliamentary democracy, this rate is 60 percent among İYİ Party voters. Fifteen percent of MHP voters find Istanbul’s CHP mayor successful, while this rate is 93 percent among İYİ Party voters.
The statistics are also telling us that the coalitions among parties are on a consolidating trend. Fifty-six percent of the AK Party voters said they will vote for the MHP if they were to vote for an alternative. Similarly, with 45 percent, the AK Party is MHP voters’ top choice for an alternative.
Asymmetrical appreciation between CHP and HDP
There is a mutual appreciation between the CHP and İYİ Party. With 42 percent, İYİ Party is the alternative for CHP voters and 43 percent of İYİ Party said they would vote for the CHP.
There is, however, a sharp asymmetry between the CHP and HDP. The latter is a second alternative for CHP voters with only 11 percent. By contrast, for a high 43.8 percent of HDP voters the CHP is the first alternative.
In general, 42 percent of the respondents have said they will never vote for the HDP. This rate is 32 percent for the İYİ Party voters. This is showing us the dilemma of the CHP, which sees no problem in cooperating with the İYİ Party but is hesitant to do the same when it comes to the HDP, which is constantly labeled by the ruling coalition as a party that supports terrorism.
According to the researchers, the political statistics reveal several clusters forming among voters. There are at least three separate groups of undecided. But they have not much of a common point. By contrast, there is a certain overlapping at the center, these are groups that are actually unhappy with their parties, but they just cannot find an alternative or decide to leave their parties yet.
This seems to be a clear message for the parties: Instead of trying to get the votes of separate clusters on the periphery, they should try to address the cluster at the center.
The overlapping clusters at the center might have some different political leanings or lifestyles, but they have the same dissatisfactions which can bring them together by some kind of a common language that can address their common frustrations and needs.
It looks like the days of aggravating polarization to get some political gains might be ending.