Coronavirus may alter the balance of Turkish politics, poll shows

The government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak may alter the balance of Turkish politics by changing a significant number of political preferences among voters, according to a new poll. 

In the poll, conducted by MAK Consulting Group, 18 percent of respondents said there would be a change in their post-coronavirus political preferences, reported news site Diken on Wednesday.

A total of 48 percent said the virus would not change their political allegiance, while 34 percent said they did not know or did not answer the question, 

The survey, titled 'Where are we in the coronavirus struggle?' was conducted on April 7, and interviewed 2,600 people - 57.5 percent of interviewees were male and 42.5 percent were female. 

When asked whether they judged the government’s response to the coronavirus to be successful, a total of 63 percent answered “Yes”, while 24 percent said “No”, and 13 percent said they were not sure or did not give an answer. 

In its analysis of the results, MAK stated: “However, this support was slightly higher in the early days of this process. The prolonged process will naturally bring uneasiness.”

Respondents to the poll said that the government had done best in terms of its free treatment and in mask distribution, while the biggest mistake the government had made was in preventing municipalities from collecting aid.

A total of 26 percent said that the government had performed best in providing free treatment, while 18 percent cited steps taken in the economy and 14 percent cited the health minister’s public information broadcasts as the best aspect of the government’s performance.

A total of 27 percent said the government had performed worst by preventing municipalities from collecting aid, while 23 percent cited a lack of consultation with other party leaders and mayors and 16 percent cited a failure to distribute resources to lower income groups as the worst aspect of the government’s performance.

When asked if they thought there would be a crisis in the country after the coronavirus pandemic, 41 percent said "Yes", 43 percent replied "No", and 16 percent were undecided or did not answer. 

Tensions have risen between between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) over the government’s response to the coronavirus. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that moves by opposition-controlled municipalities to collect donations to tackle the coronavirus was an attempt to form a parallel state.

The government has closed public spaces such as schools, universities, mosques, and restaurants, and it has imposed a curfew on all residents under the age of 20 and over 65 and has urged people to stay at home if they can. 

But it has resisted repeated calls from the opposition to impose a full lockdown on the country, as Erdoğan has said that the economy needs to keep functioning as much as possible. 

According to a separate study commissioned by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the CHP, almost two-thirds of Turks said the AKP’s economic rescue package to deal with the coronavirus was not sufficient, said Cumhuriyet on Tuesday.

Out of the 2,605 people surveyed, a total of 59.5 percent said the government’s economic package was insufficient, while 10.2 percent said it was sufficient. A total of 30.5 percent of AKP voters and 39.2 percent of voters for the party’s allies, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said that the economic package was insufficient.

Turkey’s government announced 100 billion liras ($15 billion) of measures last month to help soften the impact of the spread of the coronavirus on the economy. It has announced several additional steps since then, and the central bank has cut interest rates and injected liquidity into financial markets to help support economic activity and lending.

A separate poll has suggested that only the two main parties in Turkey would meet the 10 percent threshold required to take up seats in parliament if an election was held now, Artı Gerçek news site said on Wednesday.

According to Metropoll’s Turkey’s Pulse survey taken in March, 33.7 percent of respondents said they would vote for the AKP, while 17.7 percent said they would vote for the CHP.

If the poll’s results were replicated in an election, the 7.5 percent of respondents who would said they would vote for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the 7.1 percent who would vote for the MHP would see both parties drop out of the parliament.