Turks divided over how democracy is working: Pew report
WASHINGTONTurks are split on whether democracy is working in the country, according to a new Pew Research Center report based on a survey that was conducted in the spring.
The Turkish public is split evenly on the subject, with 49 percent saying they are satisfied and 49 percent saying they are dissatisfied with it.
Among those who are satisfied with democracy, 84 percent said they supported the Justice and Development Party (AKP), according to the survey conducted from April 5 to May 15 among 947 respondents in Turkey.
Older people and those with less education are more likely to be satisfied with the current state of democracy, while 72 percent of people who pray five times per day or more are happy, compared to 34 percent among those who hardly ever pray.
A majority of Turks prefer a democratic form of government rather than a leader with a strong hand, the survey also reveals.
However, a solid majority (61 percent) of AKP sympathizers support a strong leader versus a democratic form of government (36 percent). CHP supporters have almost exactly the opposite opinion, with 68 percent preferring democracy and 27 percent preferring a strong leader.
In addition to their mixed views on democracy, many Turks are dissatisfied with the direction of their country. Almost eight-in-ten (79 percent) supporters of Erdogan’s AKP are satisfied with the current direction of the country, while only 22 percent among the largest opposition CHP agree.
Turks name rising prices, crime and inequality as the problems they worry about most.
The only national institution asked about in the survey that has a positive rating from Turks is the military.
About half (52 percent) of the public say that the military is having a good influence on the way things are going in Turkey, while 37 percent say it is having a bad influence.
Views of the police, national government, religious leaders and the courts are mixed, while views of the media tilt to the negative. What’s more, 52 percent of Turks think their children will be worse off financially in the future.
With the war in Syria and Iraq intensifying on the Turkish border, 67 percent of Turks say fewer refugees should be allowed into the country. When the survey was conducted in the spring, only 36 percent wanted to join the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In terms of foreign relations, Turks on balance have negative opinions of every major world power, including the U.S. (58 percent unfavorable), NATO (50 percent) and the European Union (49 percent). Still, a majority in Turkey (55 percent) favor joining the EU, a figure that has not changed much in the last five years.
People in Turkey think that their country should garner more respect around the world than it currently does.
In all, 54 percent of Turks say they deserve more respect compared with the 36 percent who think Turkey is as respected as it should be.
Supporters of the AKP are much more likely to say that Turkey is as respected around the world as it should be (53 percent) compared with followers of the opposition CHP (25 percent).
Meanwhile, positive sentiment toward Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has declined significantly in the past year. Before the first round of parliamentary elections in June, only 39 percent of Turks had a favorable view of Erdoğan, while around half (51 percent) held a negative view of him. That compares with last year when 51 percent of Turks had a positive view of the president and 2013 when he had 62 percent support.
Erdoğan’s supporters include AKP followers (87 percent favorable), Turks aged 50 and older (54 percent), lower-educated Turks (53 percent), and Muslims who pray five times per day or more (71 percent).
The survey was conducted via face-to-face interviews before the June 7 parliamentary election.