The poll was conducted by Professor Özer Sencar, Professor İhsan Dağı, Professor Doğu Ergil, Dr. Sıtkı Yıldız and Dr. Vahap Coşkun of the Ankara-based MetroPOLL Strategic and Social Research Center. The poll focused on the perceptions of the Turkish people to ongoing protests in Syria. In response to a question about what they think about a possible international intervention in Syria, 63.3 percent said they would not support such an act, while 28.5 percent said the contrary. The remaining 8.2 percent either declined to comment or said they had no idea.
In the wake of a bloody campaign by the Syrian government against protestors, EU member states agreed to enforce an embargo on the export of weapons to Syria. The states also said sanctions could be extended “including at the highest level of leadership” unless Damascus heeds calls to end repression. There are also claims that NATO is mulling a military operation against Syria to end civilian killings.
Asked if they would support an intervention in Syria by Turkey for stability in that country, 49 percent said “no,” and 44.2 percent said “yes.” More than 45 percent said Turkey should lend support to protestors in Syria rather than President Bashar al-Assad. In response to a separate question, 41.3 percent said they approve of a policy pursued by the Turkish government against al-Assad’s rule in Syria, and 35.8 percent responded to the contrary. Nearly 65 percent of respondents said the developments, or more clearly protests, in Syria are likely to have “impacts” in Turkey. More than 30 percent, however, said they have no such expectation. According to 47.1 percent of respondents in the poll, al-Assad rule in Syria will be overthrown thanks to widespread protests. More than 26 percent, on the other hand, believe that the Syrian president will overcome the protests and ensure that his rule over the country continues.
The civilian unrest in Syria is a culmination of a series of public protests in a number of African and Arabian countries, which resulted in a change of governments in some of those countries. In response to a question over whether improved democracy will be possible in those countries thanks to public protests, 50.4 percent of respondents said “yes,” and 41.9 percent said “no.” Nearly 60 percent said Turkey should lend support to civilian movements in Middle Eastern and Arabian countries, while 30.6 percent said Turkey should not support the movements. According to 29.7 percent of respondents, the civilian unrest in those countries is a result of peoples’ wish for improved democracy. According to 58.8 percent of respondents, however, the protests are a result of a “game by Western countries.”
Opinions of new constitution after June elections
The survey also sought the opinions of respondents about a new constitution to replace the current one. Slightly more than 53 percent expressed the belief that political parties will manage to draft a new constitution after the next general elections, slated for June 12. More than 36 percent said a new constitution will not be possible after the elections. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) plans to make the preparation of a new constitution the primary topic for Parliament after June 12. The current Constitution was drafted under martial law after the 1980 coup d’état, and it is often the center of harsh criticism for falling short of meeting the demands of today’s Turkey. The AK Party vowed to introduce a new constitution when it first came to power in 2002, but it has failed to do so thus far, mainly due to strong resistance by opposition parties.
Asked about their opinions of the 10 percent election threshold, 48.9 percent said they do not find it fair. The survey also questioned respondents about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Kanal İstanbul project, a new waterway to be built in İstanbul to bypass the congested Bosporus strait. More than 49 percent of respondents said the project is a major one for Turkey, and thus they support it. More than 42 percent, on the other hand, said they do not support the project because the construction of such a waterway is not a priority for İstanbul.
According to 78.9 percent of respondents, Turkey’s politicians have a “problem of discourse” when criticizing each other. Some political party leaders are criticized for an exchange of abrasive words. More than 52 percent said they like the discourse of Prime Minister Erdoğan, while 25.1 percent said they like the discourse of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and 22.7 percent said they like the discourse of Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).