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Public Agenda: Economic Problems

The 2022 results of the ´Turkey Trends´ research which has been keeping its finger on the pulse of Turkey for 13 years, were announced at a press conference. According to face-to-face interviews conducted with a thousand people over the age of 18 in 26 provinces, Turkey´s main problems are the economy, counterterrorism, and refugee problems. While the USA and Israel maintain their top positions on the threat list, the participants stated that in the elections they would vote for AKP (35.3%), CHP (24.5%), MHP (8.9%), IYI [Good] Party (10.2%), and HDP (9.5%).

Translation by Janet MITRANI

The 2022 results of the 'Turkey Trends' research which has been keeping its finger on the pulse of Turkey for 13 years, were announced at a press conference held on January 17th. The study, conducted by Global Academy and Akademetre Research and Strategic Planning, is being carried out regularly since 2010. In the study based on face-to-face interviews done with 1.000 adult participants residing in 26 provinces representative of Turkey, as the Global Academy General Coordinator Prof. Dr. Mustafa Aydın has stated, "Turkey's social, economic, political, cultural changes and people's living habits are measured objectively; thus making it possible to monitor and predict Turkey's social change."

Main problems: Economy and terror

A prominent result of this year's research is the economic problems that constitute the main agenda of us all. According to the research participants, Turkey's most important problem is the economy. Respectively terror, refugees, restrictions of personal freedoms and rights, and corruption are following the economic problems. In terms of geographical regions, the Southeastern Anatolian Region's most important problem is terror.

As the economy is the main problem, those stating "I am unable to provide adequately for myself/my family", "I am worse off economically", "I am concerned about my debts", and "My income is not enough for my monthly expenses" are placed at the forefront. Only 6 percent of the participants say that they can save for the future. As methods of investment, gold and foreign currency are preferred.

The most important issues in the Turkish economy are stated as the increase in interest rates (75.9%), decrease in the value of TRY (75.4%), increased inflation (75%), unemployment (73%), increase in rents and house prices (72.5%), increase in foreign debts (71.7%), inequality in income distribution (71.3%), political turbulence (70.5%), corruptions (69.8%), the price increase in food products (69.4%), and the increase in tax rates (68.7).

We define ourselves mostly as 'conservative'

The most common answer to the question "How would you define yourself?" is 'conservative, then 'Kemalist' and 'nationalist' respectively. When the answers to this question are analyzed regarding the age groups, an interesting result emerges. People defining themselves as 'conservative' are especially between the ages of 35-44, those who define as 'political Islamist' are of age 65 years and older, those who define themselves as 'nationalist' are between the ages of 18-20, and those who define themselves as 'Kemalist' are between the ages of 45-54.

Is Turkey a democracy?

As for the governing system preference, while 53.7 percent of the participants said that they preferred the presidential government system, 46.3 percent expressed that they would prefer the parliamentary democracy. When asked who should run the country, 51.7 percent of the participants said the elected leaders, 36.1 percent said a strong leader without parliament and elections, 30.5 percent said technical experts or bureaucrats, 24.7 percent said religious leaders, 21.9 percent said the military should govern the country. The fact that the most trusted institutions are the police, gendarmerie, and the Turkish Armed Forces may help make more sense of this outcome.

Likewise, while 54.1 percent of the participants expressed that it is important to teach young people to protect the spiritual values of the Turkish nation, only 48.2 percent stated that it is important to provide democracy education to young people in schools, and 46.2 percent agreed that Turkey is a democratic country.

Who will you vote for in the 2023 elections?

As the elections are approaching, the participants were asked which party they would vote for. According to this query, the participants respectively answered as AKP (35.3%), CHP (24.5%), MHP (8.9%), IYI [Good] Party (10.2%), and HDP (9.5%), while only 5.5 percent said that they would not vote and 4.1 percent have not decided yet.

Who would you like to be neighbors with?

Even though when the question of whether they would accept to be neighbors with people of different ethnic identities, the options being Armenian, Greek, Jewish, Christian, and Atheist, the "I would not accept" answer ratio is greater than the "I would accept" answer, the fact that the "It does not matter" answer is ahead by far, in the 40-50 percent range, is a positive outcome in terms of social unity.

However, when the issue is social identities, we confront a more conservative picture. The participants do not want to be neighbors when especially homosexuals are the option. A similar tendency appears when asked, "Would you approve if your child marries to...". The participants do not want to become family with a refugee or an asylum seeker, a non-Muslim, a non-devout person, a person of low income, a person of a different political view, or a person from a different sect. When this ranking is considered, the percentage of people saying "it does not matter" increases as you go down the list.

Discontent from the refugees continue

Regarding foreign policy, among countries Turkey should collaborate, the first place goes to Muslim countries like last year. Then in the ranking, comes Turkic Republics, the United States, and Russia. We should also point out that when added to the options, the ratio of those who think that Turkey should act alone, comes third.

The first three countries on Turkey's allies list are Azerbaijan, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), and Uzbekistan. Not much has changed in the threat perception of the Turkish people; the United States is first and Israel is second. While Syria is drawing attention as third, Armenia has regressed to fourth place on the list, where it was in first place last year.

The "support for military presence abroad" and "support for cross border military operations" continue increasing compared to last year. 34.8 percent of the participants think that the government's Syria Policy is successful. The government's formal contact with Syria is not being supported much though; while 41.4 percent state that it should not contact, 33.9 percent say that it should. The discontentment of the refugees resulting from the war in Syria (61.1%) is continuing. 70.8 percent of the participants think that the Syrian refugees residing in Turkey would not return to their countries even if the security conditions in Syria were met. The percentage of those saying they would employ Syrian refugees is 22.8.

Are we happy?

"Are you happy living in Turkey?" Those who say that they are happy are 48.7 percent, those who are not are 22.7 percent, and those saying they are neither happy nor unhappy are 28.6 percent. The happiest are between the ages of 35 and 54. The unhappiest are between the ages of 18 and 34 and most of the people who would prefer to live abroad are among this age group. While those who prefer living abroad, list living conditions, economy, and respect for rights and individual freedom as reasons, the USA, Germany, and Canada are at the top of the list of the countries they want to live in.

The complete report can be reached via this link: 2022 Turkey Trends Research Report (in English) 

Karel Valansi, Şalom Gazetesi 23 January 2023 https://www.salom.com.tr/salomTurkey/haber/124425/public_agenda_economic_problems

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