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Influence of political Islam on Turks ebbs amid economic woes: survey

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The number of Turks who identify themselves with political Islam has declined significantly in the last three years as the most pressing issues of 2020 were unemployment and the high cost of living, according to the findings of an annual survey published on Thursday.

The “Turkey Trends” survey conducted by a team of Turkish academics and coordinated by Dr. Mustafa Aydın of Kadir Has University interviewed 1,000 people in 26 cities to ascertain the current social and political trends in the country.

According to the survey’s findings, 34.6 percent of respondents identified themselves with political Islam in 2020, down from 47 percent in 2017.

As the number of respondents who align their political views with the political Islam touted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) significantly dropped, a majority of respondents said they had been unable to make ends meet in 2020.

When asked about the effects of 2020’s economic developments on respondents, 51.8 of them said their financial situation got worse, while 51.1 said they could not sustain themselves and their families.

The most important problem in the country in 2020 was the COVID-19 pandemic for 23.5 percent of respondents, with 20.7 percent of them citing the “high cost of living and unemployment” for the same topic.

Nearly half of all workers in Turkey, a country of 83 million, earn a monthly salary at or near minimum wage, a study by Turkish labor confederation DİSK says.

According to a recent report based on Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data, a minimum wage worker in an average family of four who earned TL 2,435 ($327) for 2020 was expected to spend as little as TL 1.85 ($0.25) for each meal of a family member, which amounts to a daily outlay of only TL 22 ($2.96) for food for the household.

“Turkey’s minimum wage workers demand the ability to meet their basic needs and those of their families with a wage that will allow them to stand on their own two feet and end the poverty in the country,” the report concluded.

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