Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Coming Election In Turkey: An Event That Should Be Studied

Turks upbeat about their country’s economy, foreign policy, Pew survey shows

08 June 2011, Wednesday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,

Pew survey showed that Turks are more optimistic about the direction of their country.

Turks are increasingly optimistic about the direction of their country as it prepares for key parliamentary elections on June 12, world famous Pew survey shows.

The survey released by Pew Research Center as part of its Global Attitudes Project on Tuesday said at a time when publics around the world generally remain gloomy about their economies, Turks are becoming more positive and that this bodes well for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). AK Party is believed to win a landslide victory this Sunday.

The survey revealed that under Erdoğan’s leadership, Turkey has played a more assertive role in international affairs, and most Turks give the prime minister positive marks on foreign policy: 62% have confidence that he will do the right thing in world affairs.

Results for the survey are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews. All surveys are based on national samples except in Pakistan where the samples were disproportionately urban.

Moreover, Erdoğan is also popular in neighboring Arab nations – most Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, and Palestinians express confidence in the Turkish leader. In contrast, solid majorities in Israel, Germany, Spain, and France have little or no confidence in him.

The survey was conducted from March 21 to April 26 in many countries both in Europe and the Middle East.

The poll also finds that while Turks continue to favor joining the European Union, enthusiasm for EU ascension has waned in recent years. And there is no consensus about whether Turkey’s future lies more with Europe or the Middle East: 17% of Turks believe their country should look to Europe in the future; 25% say the Middle East; and 37% volunteer that both regions are equally important.

Turks are almost evenly divided about the current direction of their country: 49% are dissatisfied with the way things are going and 48% are satisfied. This is a notable improvement from last year, the survey said, when 60% were dissatisfied and 38% were satisfied. “And it is a dramatic change from 2009, when three-in-four Turks felt the country was on the wrong track,” the report noted.

The survey unveiled that currently, 49% say the economy is in good shape, while 48% describe economic conditions as bad.

In the spring 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey, 65% rated the economy poorly and just 34% said it was in good shape.

Turkish assessments of the economy are much more positive today than when Erdoğan won office nearly a decade ago. In a 2002 poll, conducted a few months before Erdoğan’s AK Party won its first national election, only 14% said economic conditions were good. By the next national election in 2007, this had risen to 46%.

According to the survey, as the global economy started to slump, Turkish views about their economic situation turned negative in 2008, and stayed negative through 2010, before recovering to some extent in the current poll.

In foreign affairs, survey revealed that about six-in-ten (62%) Turks have a lot or some confidence in Erdoğan to do the right thing in world affairs, while one-third have little or no confidence in him.

The survey said Erdoğan is also popular in a number of neighboring Arab nations. Egyptians (78%), Jordanians (72%), and Lebanese (64%) express confidence in the Turkish prime minister. This is more than Turkey itself, where confidence on Erdoğan stands at 62%.

In the Palestinian territories, Erdoğan receives somewhat less support than in other Arab nations, with 52% expressing confidence in the Turkish leader and 47% saying they have little or no confidence in him. Surprisingly, he is much more popular in the West Bank (61%) than in Gaza (35%).

Israelis overwhelmingly assign Erdoğan negative ratings – only 9% express confidence in him, while 87% lack confidence. However, among Israel’s minority Arab community, Erdoğan is generally popular, with 60% voicing confidence in him. Nearly all Israel Jews surveyed (95%) express little or no confidence.

The survey noted that the prime minister also fares poorly in Western Europe – clear majorities in Germany (69%), Spain (63%), and France (59%) give Erdoğan a negative assessment.

But the country also receives a positive rating in much of Europe, including Russia (66% favorable), France (61%), Ukraine (58%), and Britain (54%). Fully 83% of Israelis have an unfavorable opinion of Turkey, although once again there are significant differences between the country’s Jewish (5% favorable) and Arab (68% favorable) communities. In Germany, home to a large Turkish minority, just over half (54%) express an unfavorable view of Turkey.

According to the survey, there is no consensus as to whether in the future Turkey should look to Europe (17%) or to the Middle East (25%). Nearly four-in-ten (37%) volunteer that both are equally important, while 6% say that neither are important and 15% do not offer an opinion.

The survey shows only 52% of public endorse EU membership, while 42% oppose it. The support for EU accession has dropped sixteen percentage points since 2005, when 68% favored joining the EU.

According to the survey, publics in most of the EU member nations surveyed support Turkish membership in the organization. Majorities in Spain (62%) and Britain (51%) favor membership, as do pluralities in Lithuania (46%) and Poland (45%).

However, the survey underlined, majorities hold the opposite view in two of the EU’s most powerful countries: Germany (71% oppose) and France (61%). The support for Turkish EU membership has slipped slightly in Spain (-6 percentage points), Britain (-6), and Poland (-6) since 2005.

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