Erdogan's government's popularity continues to decline

A new survey in Turkey reveals declining sympathy for the ruling coalition, which may affect voting intentions for the ruling AKP party
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AFP/ADEM ALTAM  -   Turkish President and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech while attending the AK Party group meeting at Turkey's Grand National Assembly in Ankara

The economic difficulties Turkey is going through, with the sharp fall of the lira, and the strong pressure exerted by the government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the opposition, commented on by various media and analysts, continue to have, it seems, political and social consequences. In this case, they are represented in the fall in popularity of the ruling coalition in the Eurasian country.

A new survey in Turkey reveals a decline in the popularity of the governing alliance of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the National Movement Party. This may lead to the possibility of disappointed voters distancing themselves further from Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, which could lead to a drop in votes for the party in the next elections.

The projection of the AKP's decline also suggests that only three parties are likely to cross the 10 per cent threshold of Turkish public support, as reported by Al-Arabiya.

Atalayar_Partidarios Partido Democrático de los Pueblos (HDP)
REUTERS/MURAD SEZER - Supporters of Selahattin Demirtas, a jailed former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), wave party flags as they gather for a press statement outside Istanbul's Palace of Justice

According to a survey by the Sosyo Politik Research Centre, support is 36 per cent for the ruling Justice and Development Party, 29 per cent for the Republican People's Party (CHP), the largest opposition party, and 10.4 per cent for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), linked to the Kurds, who are persecuted by Erdogan's regime, which accuses them of terrorist acts in the south of the country. According to the poll, other parties, including Erdogan's government partners, would get less than 10 per cent of the votes cast.

The Research Centre conducted the survey between 15 and 19 February in 18 provinces across Turkey through face-to-face interviews or telephone calls. According to the poll, the so-called People's Alliance between the ruling Justice and Development Party and the National Movement Party won 44 per cent of the vote, as the ruling party seeks to draft a new party and election law.

Pollsters said that, for the first time, "it seems unlikely that disappointed supporters who have turned away from the AKP will vote for it again in the next election".
Three AKP officials told Reuters last week that the party was considering changes to electoral laws that could favour them in elections to be held in 2023.

Unnamed AKP sources told Al-Arabiya that the plans included splitting large urban constituencies into smaller constituencies, changes that one party official said could significantly increase the number of AKP representatives.

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AFP/OZAN KOSE - Istanbul Mayor and CHP Party leader Ekrem Imamoglu

Ruling party sources indicated that the threshold for entering parliament could be lowered from 10 per cent of the vote, one of the highest in the world, to seven per cent, a move that would reassure Erdogan's allies that they could gain representation and continue to support the ruling party, as also reported by Al-Arabiya.

However, opposition sectors believe that the 7% barrier is high enough to prevent Ahmed Davutoglu's Future and Ali Babacan's Democracy and Progress parties from reaching parliament unless they are part of a larger coalition. At the polls, both parties won around 2 per cent of the vote. Both Turkish politicians broke away from Recep Tayyip Erdogan's discipline to found their own political party and become rivals of the 'sultan'.

Atalayar_Partidarios Partido Democrático de los Pueblos (HDP)
REUTERS/MURAD SEZER - Supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) shout slogans during a protest against the arrest of 82 people, including members of their party, in Istanbul, Turkey

All this in a scenario in which, as several analysts have pointed out, Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to exert considerable pressure against opponents, mainly people close to the CHP, which seized power in the important cities of Istanbul and Ankara from Erdogan's AKP in the last municipal elections, and the HDP, accused by the government of supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is accused by the executive of allegedly supporting terrorist acts in the south of the Eurasian country. 

Erdogan continues to increase his harassment of the opposition in the face of the political crisis suffered by his party due to the loss of support in the interior of the country, represented above all by the heavy defeat in the last municipal elections of 2019 and the weariness of a certain part of the population in the face of the authoritarian and radical Islamist policies of the Executive and the difficult financial situation that the country is suffering.