How much will young voters affect the outcome of the election?
In an innovative move by the main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) shared a video in its election campaign in which the party chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is portrayed as an animation, in terms totally unique for them in the digital world: On social media.
“Let Snapchat effects increase and let curling attract the attention it deserves,” says Kılıçdaroğlu in this video.
Likewise, the Felicity Party (SP) has also released a video on social media, in which the party’s chairman Temel Karamollaoğlu takes the role of a character similar to superman and saves a vehicle driven by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that has “Turkey” written on it from falling off a cliff at the last minute.
Daily Hürriyet publicized these movements by parties under the headline “Opposition calls out to youth in their own language.”
In the meantime, Erdoğan hosted youth at the Presidential Palace in the Beştepe neighborhood of Ankara during Ramadan for a sahur meal (the meal before dawn) within the context of the election campaign, visited a student dormitory in Ankara again for a sahur meal, and came together with young students at technology meetings and answered their questions.
All of these endeavors by presidential candidates and political party leaders show how much they give importance to the support of youth in the upcoming June 24 elections.
They are not wrong in their decision. There are 1,078,000 youth aged 18-19 who will vote for the first time in their lifetime during this election. Today, there are approximately 1,342,000 people aged 19-21, who voted for the first time during the April 16, 2017 referendum. The number of voters in this election is 59,369,000.
When we look at the data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), the number of voters aged 18-24 was around 8,553,000 during the 2017 constitutional referendum. This figure constituted about 15.5 percent of the voters who went to the ballot box on April 16, 2017. This is undoubtedly not a fraction to be taken lightly as a figure.
How youth in these age groups will vote on June 24 is one of the most anticipated questions during this election.
Research undertaken after the April 16, 2017 referendum can give us some ideas regarding the answer to this question on youth. This research has indicated that the percentage of youth who voted “no” in the 2017 referendum was “just narrowly” higher than the percentage of youth who voted “yes.”
For example, according to a study by the research company İPSOS, 20 percent of those who voted “no” in the referendum were aged 18-24. Sixteen percent of those who voted “yes” in the referendum were aged 18-24. Likewise, according to KONDA’s research, 32 percent of those who voted “no” in the referendum were aged 18-32, whereas this figure fell to 28 percent for those who voted “yes” in the same age group.
In fact, both studies pointed out that the weight of youth who voted “no” was “a bit greater” than the youth who voted “yes” in terms of percentage.
Assuming the same trend repeats itself 14 months later, i.e. on June 24, could a more significant weight of youth in the opposition front compared to the ruling front create a “critical density,” which could affect the election results?
Let’s admit unless such a trend in youth repeats itself for all age groups, its total affect will stay limited.
Metropol research company president Prof. Özer Sencar has said the high visibility of youth that show up at election campaign events such as rallies, have brought the perception of youth to the fore.
“Even if it is suggested that the opposition front is a bit more advantaged regarding the youth electorate, the effect of this partial supremacy on the total is not as high. Because, with other age groups included in the calculation, the effect of the youth becomes lower,” Sencar said.
“Therefore, it is difficult to say young voters have a determining effect on the outcome of the election,” he said.
In this situation, it could be possible for youth to have a determining factor only when their preferences strongly concentrate on one of the candidates, in a way that might affect the total.
We will find the answer to our question on the night of Sunday, June 24 Sunday. Still, in a scenario where an election will take place neck to neck, despite everything, the possibility of even very minor differences to have a major effect on the results should not be completely eliminated.