53 percent of Turks have no confidence in Turkish presidency: poll

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A polling company has found that people in Turkey have largely lost their confidence in a number of public institutions, including the presidency, the Kronos news website reported on Wednesday.

The Yöneylem Social Research Center’s Turkey Politics Panel survey for September measured Turkish citizens’ confidence in public institutions and found that 53 percent of participants do not have confidence in the presidency, 59 percent in the Religious Affairs Directorate, 52 percent in the Ministry of Education and 60 percent in Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).

Although President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has long boasted higher popular support than his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the public confidence in his presidency has recently waned.

The survey found that 53 percent of participants do not have confidence in Erdoğan’s presidency — with 47 percent expressing no confidence and 6 percent not much confidence — while 33 percent have full confidence.

According to another Yöneylem survey released in September, 32.6 percent of respondents said they would support Erdoğan if he runs again for president, while 56.9 percent said they would never vote for him and 8.1 percent were undecided.

Likewise, 59 percent do not have confidence in the Religious Affairs Directorate — with 54 percent expressing no confidence and 5 percent not much confidence — while only 25 percent expressed full confidence in the directorate, whose current president, Professor Ali Erbaş, has been attracting criticism for making a series of controversial comments on issues considered by many to be unbefitting a top cleric.

When asked, “Do you think it is normal for the head of the Religious Affairs Directorate to make comments on political matters?” 75 percent of respondents said it was wrong, while 21 percent approved.

Erbaş, who frequently appears at public events along with President Erdoğan, is accused by many of promoting Erdoğan’s agenda using religion as a pretext.

Regarding the Ministry of Education, an institution notorious for a trial-and-error approach to education and frequent changes of ministers and systems, the survey demonstrated that 52 percent do not have confidence in the ministry — with 45 percent expressing no confidence and 7 percent not much confidence in it. Only 25 percent expressed full confidence in the ministry.

The ministry is at the center of criticism for failing to address Turkey’s long-standing problems in education such as thousands of unemployed teachers who are waiting to be appointed, educational inequality and physical capacity problems related to the schools as well as a failure to keep schools running or offer proper online education during the pandemic

Another untrustworthy institution was TurkStat, which has recently been criticized for publishing unreliable data, particularly related to inflation and employment. According to the survey, 60 percent do not have confidence in TurkStat — with 52 percent expressing no confidence and 8 percent not much confidence — while only 18 percent expressed full confidence in it.

The figures announced by TurkStat, responsible for producing official statistics on Turkey, are frequently disputed and the institution is described as being out of touch with reality.

The survey further showed that economic problems are the most urgent in Turkey. When asked “What are the main subjects you have discussed with your family, friends and social circle during the last month?” the economy was reported as the most discussed topic in September. More than half of participants complained about unemployment, financial hardship and inflation.

Over the past several years, Turkey has been suffering from backsliding in its economy, with high inflation and unemployment as well as a poor human rights record. Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing a one-man rule in the country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.

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