The Last Election Poll: AK Party Support is at the Lowest Level

Since the beginning of 2021 Turkey has been struggling to deal with different issues such as catastrophic forest fires, flood disaster, mass Afghan migration movement, and the cost of living because of the Turkish lira’s depreciation. Those management difficulties cause the decline of voters’ belief in the ruling party. On one hand, the ruling party began to lose its supporters since February of 2021. On the other hand, the ruling party’s rate came to the lowest point of one year in the third week according to Turkey Monitor.

Turkey Monitor analyzes the political party choices of voters weekly. After the end of the year, Turkey Monitor published the yearly distribution of political parties’ votes. We also published weekly data of December 2021 and January 2022 to see the consequences of the cost of living, hikes of electricity and natural gas, and the ruling party’s economic management on the choices of voters.

The ruling party, AK Party, reached the highest rate with 36,0 in February 2021. However, the party could not manage to keep its own electors stable and began to lose their support. Till July 2021, the party lost 4,7 points. Then the party’s vote was stable for the rest of the months.

What happened in Turkey between February and July of 2021?

The first reason for losing that much support from the supporters is the uncertainty of the economy. Turkey changed three ministers of Treasury and Finance and four presidents of the central bank since 2018, after the presidential system, due to the president’s belief on a high-interest rate is the reason for high inflation. The other reason is the low trust of the community in the TURKSTAT inflation rate. Turkish people think that inflation is higher than TURKSTAT’s calculation.

The first occurrence of environmental issues was also between February and July of 2021. The mucilage problem in the Marmara Sea was the reason for not taking adequate precautions according to the poll of Turkey Monitor. It is also the reason for low belief in the government’s policy on environmental issues. Consequently, forest fires in the Aegean region and flood in the Black Sea region in the following months demonstrated the truth of voters’ idea.

The interest rate could not stop high inflation, but could it stop losing supporters?

The pressure on the community because of high inflation came to an unbearable point in the last quarter of 2021 and continued in 2022. According to TURKSTAT, the yearly consumer price index was 23,3% in October 2021, 36,1% in December 2021, and 48,7% in January 2022. Moreover, the producer price index, which is predicting the reflection in consumer prices, also repeatedly updates its highest level. In October 2021, the index was 54,6% while it was 79,9% in December 2021, and 93,5% in January 2022. This means the pressure of the cost of living on the community will also increase in the upcoming months.

The primary strategy of the government to provide better living standards to the Turkish community is to show depreciation of the Turkish lira against other currencies as a part of a big plan which is called investment, employment, production, and export. Weak Turkish lira will be attractive for foreign investors and local producers. As an advantage of the weak lira, local producers will sell the products to foreign countries and foreign investors will invest in Turkey. As a result of this, production, export, and employment will increase. The expectation of the economy management is that the plan will be successful till the 2023 presidential election. Until the election, to reduce the suffering of the Turkish community from high prices, the government also increased the minimum wage to 4250 Turkish lira. However, making a living with the new minimum wage is impossible according to voters.

The announcement of the government’s currency protected Turkish lira deposit decreased the lira against 1 dollar from 18 to around 13 lira. Voters considered as a success of the ruling party and AK Party’s vote increased to 31,2% in the third week of December 2021. However, the support of voters decreased in upcoming weeks and AK Party’s vote went down to 30,1% which is the lowest point in the last year.

What is voters’ alternative as a ruling party?

The decline of ruling party votes brings many questions to our minds. Which party do voters choose as an alternative? Which opposition party is ready to govern?

The result of the Turkey Monitor election poll shows that voters see CHP (Republican People’s Party) as an alternative to AK Party. CHP’s vote was at the lowest point with 24,6% in March 2021. However, with the parallel of AK Party’s decline, voters began to prefer CHP and the biggest opposition party’s votes increased to 28,7% until July 2021. There were no big differences in parties’ votes in the next months.

The success of CHP came in local elections with the winning both in Istanbul and Ankara after 20 years of AK Party governance. Voters gave a chance to the biggest opposition parties’ candidates in 2019. This was a big opportunity for oppositions to prove that they are ready to be the next ruling party. Seeing CHP as an alternative to AK Party is the reason for showing good governance in municipalities. The distribution of party votes proves that the behavior of voters is in this way.

Nationalist Movement Party may not be in parliament without AK Party

The situation in some political parties is uncertain. IYI Party guarantees its place in parliament with the support between minimum 12,9% and maximum 14,1%. However, other political parties’ position is different. With the increase of IYI Party support since the 2018 parliament election, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lost many of its voters. At the beginning of 2021, MHP’s vote was 9,0% while it decreased to 7,9% until the third week of January 2022. This means MHP has no chance to be in parliament without AK Party’s support while AK Party has no chance to get the majority without MHP. Other parties also share the same faith with MHP. Without being in an alliance, they have no chance to be in parliament according to the Turkey Monitor election poll.

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