How to read the Turkish electorate's behavior

Published 05.06.2015 23:25
Updated 06.06.2015 00:01

The acceleration of the communication revolution in the modern age has led to radical social transformation. The interval of change between generations has been reduced to decades and people from different generations have become total strangers to one another.

When Turkish society is examined through its electoral behavior, miscellaneous reasons should be detected that have triggered the aforementioned social transformation in the Turkish case.

Ten years ago, the Turkish electorate faced profound social, political and economic problems. On the one hand, the emergence of a deep economic crisis could not have been prevented. Great pressures and gaps had, on the other hand, predominated in the democratic realm. Regarding the freedom of thought and faith, religious people were under strong pressure. The lack of infrastructure in transportation, education, health and social welfare were beyond tolerable bounds.

Apart from all of this, as the traumatic memory for the military coup of Sept. 12, 1980 was succeeded by the post-modern coup of Feb. 28, 1997, Turkish democracy was under the manifest rule of military tutelage.

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) governments, which endeavored to cope with all of these problems, achieved to a large extent the protection of Turkey from the global economic crisis.

After all of these positive developments, when Turkey was exposed to attempts of civil-bureaucratic coups by the Gülen Movement before local elections, the Turkish electorate took sides with the AK Party government.

In terms of the present context, 40 percent of the electorate votes for the AK Party not only because of simple party allegiance, but also for the services provided thus far. The remaining 7 percent to 8 percent of AK Party voters in the last general elections seem to be in need of strongly reminding themselves:

- "As I had supported you throughout all elections, you should not forget about me today."

"As many problems of the country are being resolved, I demand a greater share from the existing economic welfare."

"I am afraid of becoming unemployed in the present economic situation."

For the first time, salaried and low-income families have been able to air their problems to politicians and they would like to benefit from that opportunity.

The electorate, by a majority, wants a one-party government, but they also want to not be forgotten.

They would like the AK Party to give messages, not for the past, but for the future.

Like their European counterparts, the Turkish electorate seems more concerned with their daily problems.

Small retailers were in trouble in the midst of stagnation. Thus, the opposition political parties called for these low-income families by comparing their economic situations to the ongoing mega projects that were in turn signals of the present economic welfare.

Regarding the Kurdish issue, although the present reconciliation process has been initiated and led by the AK Party government, all public discussions of the Kurdish issue strengthen either the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) or pro-Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Thus, the AK Party would be better off by emphasizing the ongoing democratization and economic investments in the eastern regions rather than caging itself within the unfruitful electoral polemic with the HDP.

Regarding the younger generations, the promise of employment keeps its strength for the electorate.

Shortly and precisely, the Turkish electorate gives such a multilayered message to the competing political parties.

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