In Turkey, elections (whether national or local) are always at the top of the political agenda. As soon as any electoral campaign begins, issues ranging from ideology to social life, law to international relations issues and cultural differences to ethnic concerns become intertwined to manifest as public opinion.
Although the main axis of political controversy appears to be between conservatives and Westerners, political alliances are sometimes formed between nationalists and conservatives and leftist-nationalist Kurds and Republican Westerners (who always represented the center). In the upcoming referendum, the Republican People's Party (CHP), which represented the traditional center of the Turkish state and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), a nationalist Kurdish political party that heavily relies on the electorate that resides in Turkey's southeastern regions, form an alliance. On the other side, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are located within the same political front.
Western states have always been interested in Turkish politics and elections in Turkey. Although we know they have sympathy for the opposition, they maintained a neutral political stance in Turkey's previous elections. Now, for the first time, European states are openly against the government, acting like an opposing political party, waging war against the government and the Turkish president under Germany's leadership.
Representing the traditional center of the state, the CHP poses a heavy resistance against novelties in democracy and human rights. Thus, together with the HDP, which normally demands political reform, these traditionalists regard the proposed changes with suspicion, becoming fervent advocates for the status quo.
The Turkish electorate has always taken a rational and somewhat pragmatist stance. Notwithstanding, regarding the ideological lines of demarcation, the electorate primarily concerns itself with the concrete results of elections. In the upcoming referendum, they will vote for the option that they consider rational - that is, the system that would maintain Turkey's stability. Significant conclusions drawn as a result of recent research from "Your Source," a publication that focuses on economic research under the GENAR Research Institute, analyzed purchasing behavior in Turkey. According to the research, which focused on the purchasing and investment powers in Istanbul and Trabzon within the electorate, 70 percent of those interviewed decided to postpone their investment decisions until after the referendum. Moreover, 67 percent of interviewees declared that they would make investments only if the constitutional change were accepted, compared to 17 percent of participants who indicated the exact opposite.
It is reasonable to argue that the Turkish electorate adopts rational electoral behavior as opposed to the electorate of the 1970s, who made decisions according to the ideological lines of demarcation. Urbanization and the direct effects of economic crises on individuals have morphed the electorate into one that has begun to adopt more rational and less ideological voting tendencies.
During the referendum of Sept. 12, 2010, we met with a group of young businessmen. Seven entrepreneurs out of 10 stated that they would vote "yes." When we asked about the main motives behind the decision, they said, "Businessmen think that Turkey's stability and growth are organically linked to the success of the government."
Regardless of the content of electoral debates, the Turkish electorate will make a rational, prudent and realistic decision by taking an economic perspective to the ballot box. We can foresee with certainty that the Turkish electorate will lean heavily toward the "yes" vote, especially in the final days of the referendum process.