Less than one year remains until the next elections and as always, the political parties' public support remains the principal theme of electoral discussions. Since the elections of June 12, 2011, no fundamental change has occurred in the political spectrum, as the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) voting rate remains more or less the same in general and local elections. Although individual candidates run in presidential elections by leaving their political allegiances behind, the voting rate for presidential candidates represent the success of their nominating political parties. In this respect, while the voting rate of 51.79 percent for the current president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, referred to a vote of confidence for the AK Party's political power, the voting rate of 38.44 percent for Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu represented the electoral support base of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Right after the presidential election, a new government was established by incoming prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, and although the change of prime minister is essential for the ruling political party, no fundamental change occurred in the voting behavior of the electorate in the case of an immediate general election. As was the case with previous electoral surveys, the voting rates of political parties remain more or less the same with the AK Party at 48.5 percent, CHP at 25 percent, MHP at 14 percent, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) at 8 percent to 9 percent and Felicity Party (SP) at 1 percent. In fact, electoral surveys demonstrate in common that these voting rates have, in general, remained the same since June 12, 2011, and both the last local and presidential elections falsified the results of some electoral studies that claimed a fluctuating voting rate for political parties.
As the political arena in Turkey is, as always, dynamic and vigorous, the government has been encountering socio-psychological opposition. Thus, "whether all the recent political occurrences led to a change in the voting behavior of the electorate?" remains a legitimate research topic.
i. The principal themes of the opposition parties' political agenda such as the Gezi Park protests, Constitutional Court decisions and the charges of alleged corruption do not directly influence the citizens' daily lives.
ii. Instead of relying on ideological points of view, the Turkish electorate practically tends toward issues related to daily life and the future.
iii. The voting behavior of the Turkish electorate and its votes of confidence for the AK Party government since 2002 emanate from a holistic perspective treating the political arena including the Prime Ministry, presidency, government and the AK Party itself as a complete and integral process.
iv. The Turkish electorate also constantly evaluates whether the opposition parties present sound alternative policies and points of view and although each successful political party holds its own individual support base, the mobile and volatile electorate decides, in the final analysis, electoral fate.
v. The opposition parties cannot present alternative policies directly influencing citizens' daily lives.
vi. The public's appreciation of the government's activities outweighs the electoral success of the AK Party and the public support for the government's iconoclastic policies in the fields of education, health, economy and the reconciliation process is almost 10 percent higher than its electoral voting rate of 49 percent, and thus, such general contentment invigorates resistance to the government's electoral votes.
As opposition parties are by no means successful in producing realistic, practical and sound alternative policies and discourses, Turkey's political opposition has been squeezed in the shallow climate of personal accusations of Erdoğan, Davutoğlu and AK Party representatives. Consequently, the AK Party continues to hold a higher place in the voting behavior of the Turkish electorate as the leader toward a secure and bright future.
About the author
İhsan Aktaş is Chairman of the Board of GENAR Research Company. He is an academic at the Department of Communication at Istanbul Medipol University.