People want new political party and leader, poll shows

August 29, 2012, Wednesday/ 16:30:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

A recent survey conducted to measure public opinion of external and internal affairs in August has shown that most people, 60.4 percent of interviewees, believe there is a need for a new political party and leader, signaling deep public resentment and frustration over politicians' performances since the June 12, 2011 elections.

The survey came after internal squabbles over how to handle the festering problem of terrorism and foreign policy issues that have become more apparent in recent weeks. The most significant result of the survey is the fact that 60.4 percent of the interviewees responded positively to the question of whether there is a need for a new leader and political party in order to address the current political situation and political balances in Turkey. Meanwhile, 28.9 percent of interviewees think that there is no need for change in the current political leadership of Turkey, expressing a positive opinion of the political landscape.

Other key points of the survey show that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) would probably lose some of its votes that it garnered in the June 12 elections and that most of the respondents are frustrated with the performances of politicians in both domestic and foreign policies over the past year.

According to the results of the survey, which was conducted between Aug. 22 and Aug. 27 by means of in-depth interviews with 3,251 people in 21 provinces, if a new election were held this month, the AK Party would get 46.7 percent of the total votes. The Republican People's Party (CHP) appears as the second most popular party in a possible election with 19.5 percent and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is third with 16.1 percent. It is worth mention that while the first two parties would lose a significant percentage of their votes, the nationalist MHP seems to have made progress.

However, while the majority of interviewees underlined the need for a new figure in politics, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was named as the most admired and successful leader on the Turkish political scene, winning the votes of 47.3 percent of the respondents. The former mayor of Şişli municipality in İstanbul, Mustafa Sarıgül, comes second in the category of the most admired and successful leader with 27.1 percent, while CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu ranks in third place with 20.8 percent.

Interviewees also expressed their opinions over the union plans of the AK Party and the opposition Voice of the People Party (HAS Party), which have a similar electoral bases.

While 71.5 percent of the interviewees who voted for the AK Party responded positively to the question of whether HAS Party leader Numan Kurtulmuş and his friends should join the ruling AK Party, few people backed the idea of uniting with the ruling party from among HAS Party supporters. Only 58.9 percent of interviewees who voted for the HAS Party in the June 12 elections endorsed such a plan. More than 30 percent of HAS Party voters expressed their objection to the union. Both parties heavily rely on conservative votes.

Regarding debates related to the MHP, 68.8 percent of those questioned who voted for the party expressed their objection to any change in leadership when asked if there should be a change in the prominent figures of the party, including leader Devlet Bahçeli and his inner circle. Only 21.5 percent responded positively to the same question regarding the leadership of the party, the second biggest opposition party in Parliament after the CHP.

According to the survey's results, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan is regarded as the most popular minister in the cabinet as chosen by 10.3 percent of those interviewed. Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yıldız is the second most popular figure with 9.7 percent while Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu comes third with 9.5 percent.

In the meantime, in light of the recent challenges facing Turkey with regards to foreign affairs, the survey reveals that the majority of people, 67.1 percent of interviewees, disapprove of Turkey's policies regarding the 18-month-old Syrian conflict, the longest in a country affected by the Arab Spring.

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