Turkish youth a carbon copy of their parents?
“Make Way, the Youngsters are Coming” is a book recently published by Fatoş Karahasan from Bilgi University, based on the findings of a survey conducted through 45-minute-long interviews with 2,000 youngsters in 15 provinces across Turkey. The book’s conclusions are drawn by synthesizing those findings with several other local and international surveys.
What the youth think is important not only in terms of the fact that they will be the engines carrying the country to the future, but also in terms of the fact that they could determine who will rule the country. The latter point is especially crucial in view of the fact that one million new voters will be eligible to cast their votes in the June 24 elections, which might prove to be a close race where every vote will matter.
The key finding in the book is the fact that family is a key reference for the youth, with 78 percent saying family interests come above anything. They generally see their parents as role models, with one out of two of youngsters saying they have a strong relationship with their families. When asked to name three people they respect the views of, 86 percent said their fathers, 80 percent said their mother, and other family members came third.
For nearly half of the youths surveyed, the most reliable source of information is their parents. Most live with their parents and seem not to complain too much about it.
This is very interesting for a person like me, who will soon turn 50. Many members of my generation had rather confrontational relations with their parents; we wanted to earn a living as soon as possible and leave our parents’ home in order to be independent of them.
The economic dependence levels of the new generations can be understood to a certain level, as it has become much harder for new generations to find employment, let alone earn enough money to afford to rent a house. The level of loyalty, conformity and conformism vis a vis their family is therefore highly surprising for people of my age, for whom generational conflict is and should be a natural phenomenon.
The answers to certain questions reveal that many youths seem to share exactly the same views and prejudices as their parents, such as lack of trust toward others and lack of tolerance to different people.
The main conclusion of Karahasan’s book is the fact that the youth, aged between 15 and 24, is effectively reproducing a carbon copy of today’s society in Turkey.
If that is the case, is the Justice and Development Party (AKP) counting on the youth to reproduce the same outcome in these elections, relying on the assumption that they will simply vote in line with their parents’ choices? Is that the reason why the AKP has not come up with many projects that could excite the youth, thinking that whatever they will say to appeal to the parents will be enough?
But to what degree will the “fear factor” that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP has used to lure the votes of the older generations, telling them to never forget the past, appeal to the youth?
While one has to admit that the youth branches of the AKP has been working very well compared to other parties in recent years, it is also a fact that Erdoğan and the AKP has been having difficulty attracting youngsters’ vote. This is among the key general observations of pollsters in most recent elections. In addition, the number of “undecided” were quiet high until recently, which means that if the parents are undecided their children could be too.
One thing is certain: With so many polling companies making such different estimates, we should be ready for surprises. And maybe the youths will be the ones who surprise us most.