Why Erdoğan attends his political rallies, holding Quran

How Turkey’s ever-baffling voters will act a month from now is, still, a grand puzzle. There is no doubt June 7 will be a ‘national day of reckoning’ for the country.

It is a referendum about the ‘Erdoğan’s Way’, as much as a collective decision for the path to be chosen by roughly 56 million voters: ‘enough’ or ‘go ahead’ for the normalization; ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to what Latin America called ‘autogolpe’ (a power grab).

How much of a puzzle we stand before was verified the other evening when we — a group of select journalists — were presented an important survey conducted by Koç University, Ohio State University and the Open Society Foundation. The academic team was led by the respected Prof Ali Çarkoğlu, and supported by another scholar of high esteem, Prof. Ersin Kalaycıoğlu.

The core study aimed not to be just another guessing game of whether the party would come out winning or losing. Rather, as it was titled, it offered us comparative data on the social dynamics ahead of the June 7 elections. Conducted with around 2,000 people in 49 provinces, its value lay in the fact that similar studies were done before previous elections in 2002, 2007 and 2011.

The reading of the study makes it very clear, at the outset, that the positive perceptions for democratic transformation and hopes had, in many aspects, reached a peak in around 2011 — and this one followed the referendum on key constitutional amendments — at which point trends show a downward fall.

“Those who are dismayed about the way democracy functions are 45 percent,” Çarkoğlu told us. ‘This indicator, which we have monitored since 2006, was as low as 33 percent in 2011. From then on, a steady negative rise has been noted.”

The key element for the color of the vote remains a given: the economy. But, perhaps more crucially than ever before, the perceptions are about its downhill trends as well.

“Voter observations show negative signs” said Çarkoğlu.

“Those voters who thought the economy was going badly stood at 24 percent in 2013. This went up to 30 percent in 2014 and now it is as high as 48 percent.”

One focus of voter anxiety is unemployment (39 percent). Other indicators in the study also show a negative perception over the decreasing figures of growth.

The survey tells us that the public finds the AKP least successful in three areas: unemployment, its Syria policy and the fight against corruption. What it finds most successful is the headscarf issue, healthcare and urban transformation.

The survey is also a wake-up call for the public….

To read my full article, click here…

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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