Most Turks believe Erdoğan calling shots in gov’t, not Davutoğlu

SHAFAQNA- A newly released opinion poll has shown that an overwhelming majority of Turks believe President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the one who controls all the levers of power in the government and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) rather than Ahmet Davutoğlu, who is the prime minister and the party chairman.

Conducted by MetroPOLL Strategic and Social Research Center, the poll suggests that 78.6 percent of participants believe Erdoğan controls the government rather than Davutoğlu, even though the president has largely ceremonial powers and the prime minister is the one who should lead the government according to the Constitution.

Only 18.1 percent of Turks believe Davutoğlu is directing the affairs of the government, while the remaining 3.3 percent declined to comment or said they have not formed any opinion yet.

In addition, 75 percent of the respondents said they believe Erdoğan is also the leader who controls the AK Party as opposed to 21.1 percent who said it is Davutoğlu who calls the shots of the party leadership as the chairman. The rest either declined to respond or said they have no idea.

President Erdoğan is seen by many in Turkey as often meddling into government affairs, thereby violating all established norms of conduct for a president in Turkey’s parliamentarian democracy. Various remarks Erdoğan uttered after being elected president in August indicate that he treats his hand-picked successor, Davutoğlu, as his secretary rather than the prime minister.

When the survey is broken down along political party lines, 58.2 percent of AK Party supporters regarded Erdoğan as the de facto head of the government, while only 41 percent of AK Party supporters considered Davutoğlu as the leader who manages the government affairs. Well over 90 percent of respondents who support the opposition parties said they see Erdoğan as the head of government rather than Davutoğlu.

In terms of Erdoğan’s perception among Turks, 35 percent of the respondents hold that Erdoğan remains impartial, while almost 60 percent of survey participants believe he is not impartial as president. This is almost identical to the figure that was recorded in the October 2014 survey in which he polled at 36 percent. In the Constitution, the president is described as a independent and neutral figure as a representative of the Turkish state.

In the survey, 51.1 percent of respondents say they believe the current 10-percent electoral threshold that is needed for parties to win seats in Parliament is not fair as opposed to 39.3 percent, while the remainder did not respond.

Yet many in Turkey do not want the threshold gone, either. In the December 2014 survey, when asked if Turkey should do away with the 10-percent electoral threshold, 41.6 percent said “no,” while 19.7 percent said “yes.” The rest said it should be lowered (21.2 percent) or declined to respond.

The threshold does not seem to have an impact on preferences Turkish voters make, according to the current survey. A total of 80.3 percent said they would have voted for the same party even if there was no threshold, while 8.9 percent indicated they might have switched. The rest did not express any opinion or declined to respond.

Pollsters also questioned the respondents about whether they would like to see the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) under the leadership of Selahattin Demirtaş pass the 10-percent threshold in the June elections. Some 70 percent said they are opposed to the HDP exceeding the threshold barrier, while only 18 percent expressed their desire to see the HDP exceed it. The rest did not answer or express any opinion.

When asked whether they believe the HDP will exceed the threshold in the voting, 70.5 percent said they do not think that is possible as opposed to 19.6 percent.

When asked whether Turkey is moving toward a better or worse future in general, more people said it is heading in a negative direction. Of those asked, 51.5 percent said Turkey is taking a negative path, as opposed to 36.2 percent who said the country is improving. The rest either remained neutral or declined to respond.

The survey shows that the percentage of citizens who think the government is managing the economy poorly rose to 54.3 percent, increasing almost 10 percent since April of last year. Almost 40 percent said they believe the government is managing the economy well.

The poll asked how people would vote if there were national elections tomorrow. According to the results, 36.7 percent of people said they would vote for the ruling AK Party, a drop of almost 10 percent from July 2014 figures, which indicated the ruling party polled at 45 percent.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) received 22 percent, while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) received 11.9 percent. The pro-Kurdish HDP received 7.9 percent. The rest went to smaller parties, while 9.8 percent said they are undecided and 5 percent said they would protest the elections, meaning they will not show up at the ballot box. A total of 3.4 percent did not respond.

It looks as if most voters have made up their minds as to their choice of political party. Of those who named a political party for their preference in the upcoming elections, 91.4 percent said they are locked in on their choice, while 5.8 percent said they may change their mind. The rest said they do not know.

The survey also questioned how many people in Turkey condone violence in the name of Islam. According to the results, 73.6 percent of Turks do not agree with resorting to violence on behalf of Islam, while 20.1 percent said violence may be used. This indicates an increase in the number of people who approve of violence in the name of Islam when compared to the September 2014 survey results. Back then, only 12.6 said they condone the use of violence, while 82.8 said they were opposed to it.

Interestingly, one-third of AK Party supporters (33.8 percent) indicated their approval of violence in the name of Islam when the approval figure was broken into political party lines. This figure is much lower among opposition parties, with the exception of the Islamist Felicity Party, which polled at 42.9 percent.

When asked whether Muslims represent true Islam today, 58.4 percent said no as opposed to 33.1 percent. The survey also found similar results to the question about whether members of Islamic clergy represent the true Islam. Fifty percent responded negatively, while 40 percent answered in the affirmative. The same results are also valid for religious communities or groups as well.

The survey concluded that people’s positive perception towards pious Muslims has declined. When questioned about their trust of pious Muslims in recent years, 35 percent of participants said it had declined, while 17.5 said it increased. A total of 42.2 percent said it remained the same.

The poll was conducted in January with a random national sample in various cities, towns and villages. The margin of error for the overall poll is 2.5 percentage points, and the confidence level is 95 percent.


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