The public's flocking to the streets and lying in front of tanks played a key role in the prevention of the Gülenist Terror Group's (FETÖ) brutal coup attempt on July 15. With President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's call and encouragement, democracy watches on the streets started on the night of July 15 and continued in the following weeks. But who poured out into the streets? As some claim, was it the ignorant and uneducated idle who kept guard all night long?
Konda, one of Turkey's leading research companies, conducted a survey to find an answer to this question. The survey results, which were announced last week, destroyed many cliches with respect to the profiles and motivations of the people who joined the democracy watches.
First, let us look at which party bases took to the streets and in what proportion. The survey found that the majority of people in the streets were Justice and Development Party (AK Party) supporters, 79.5 percent of whom voted for the AK Party in the previous elections. People who had voted for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) constituted 4.3 percent of participants at democracy watches, Republican People Party (CHP) voters were 2.9 percent and 1.5 were Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) supporters. The answers to the question of what party they would vote for in the next elections increased support for the AK Party to 84 percent. The results also found that the level of educational of those who participated in the democracy watches was well above the national average. High school graduates constituted 35 percent of participants and university graduates were 21 percent, which means that 56 percent of participants had at least finished high school. In addition, the amount of men and women who participated was close to being equivalent.In other words, who kept guard on the streets was not the uneducated male section of society that is sometimes exposed to unfair humiliation, but conscious, white-collar citizens, both men and women, mainly from the AK Party base. The results indicate the rise of a new middle class during AK Party rule and how strongly they embrace their own gains. The answers to the question of whether the people previously joined any protests or marches support the first question, which 77 percent of respondents answered said they had not.
One of the most critical findings was seen in answers to the question about ethnic background. Accordingly, Kurds constituted 14 percent of participants at the democracy watches across Turkey, and was 15 percent in Istanbul. Given that Kurds constitute about 18 percent to 19 of Turkey's population, it seems the majority of them joined the democracy watches. Additionally, 86 percent of people said they had not participated in the watches on behalf of a group.
In short, mainly AK Party proponents, both men and women in almost equal proportions, the majority of whom are high school or university graduates, as well as Kurds in close proportion to their percentage of Turkey's population, poured out into the streets after July 15. This shows that the people who became urbanized and rose to the middle class during AK Party rule strongly embrace their gains and identify with Erdoğan and Turkey's current position. It also indicates how the people on the streets, which the Western media sometimes vulgarizes, saying that they are DAESH supporters or radical Islamists, are far from this characterization.