The Republican People’s Party (CHP) member Ekrem İmamoğlu’s second, and this time landslide victory in the re-elections for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has been voted as the most remarkable event of the year 2019 in Turkey by YetkinReport readers. President Tayyip Erdoğan’s dismissal of the Central Bank Governor for failing to lower interest rates came in second place in the polls. At the third spot was the news of former PM Ahmet Davutoğlu founding the Future Party (FP) with some MPs leaving Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The poll was active between December 26 and 31, 2019 on the YetkinReport website; voters chose among 10 options and one open-ended question.
Here are the top three and top five subjects and their rankings.
1- İMAMOĞLU: İmamoğlu’s landslide victory in the repeat of the March 31 election on June 23 for Istanbul and CHP’s win over major municipalities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Adana and Antalya, through their alliance with Good Party (GP). (31.70%)
2- ECONOMY: The back-to-back, three-quarters downsizing of the economy, and Erdoğan’s dismissal of Central Bank Governor Murat Çetinkaya from his position saying “the interest rates weren’t going down, he was disobedient”. (13.07%)
3- DAVUTOĞLU: Disintegrations starting to appear within AKP, which has been in power since 2002, and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu founding the Future Party (FP). (12.75%)
4- S-400: Turkey’s purchase and acquisition of Russian S-400 missiles despite the U.S. threatening to take Turkey out of the joint F-35 production plan and to impose sanctions. (12.42%)
5- Two subjects with the same amount of votes shared the fifth place:
PEACE SPRING OP: President Erdoğan launching the Peace Spring military operation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) Syrian branch, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) who were cooperating with the U.S. in Syria, and Erdoğan’s subsequent deals with Trump and Putin. (7.52%)
HPD MUNICIPALITIES: The dismissals of 26 Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayors in the municipalities they’ve won, including 3 big cities, and the appointment of government trustees in their places, while 11 mayors got arrested. (7.52%)
The Kanal Istanbul debates that began towards the end of the year and, unfortunately, awareness raised on violence against women through Şule Çet murder case did not make the top five.
YetkinReport readers, of course, do not represent Turkish society as a whole; they represent a relatively more educated audience that closely follows the developments in politics, economy and societal issues. The poll was not intended to be an academic study; it can be seen as more of an attempt to take the pulse on current affairs. Nevertheless, to avoid manipulative attempts, we used software that allowed to vote only once from the same computer or portable device. Therefore, even though the results don’t reflect the society’s views as a whole, it does reveal the perceptions and pulse of a certain portion of relatively more educated people who are interested in political, economic and social developments.
Looking at these findings, it’s safe to say the repeat election in Istanbul and the local elections in general, where the opposition CHP took over most of the big cities, were seen as of greater importance than even the economic problems. Indeed, the fact that Davutoğlu’s new party, founded in conjunction with a mass disengagement from AKP, and issues such as HDP mayors getting arrested were listed in the top 5 in the polls suggests the March 31 local elections marked the turn of the tide.
The Peace Spring operation and struggle against PKK/YPG presence in Syria despite rows with the U.S., and additional sanction crises with the U.S. concerning the F-35 joint production program due to the Russian S-400s have not been as effective in determining people’s choices as domestic politics and the economy have clearly been. We could say that aggressive foreign policy and security issues are crucial in determining the country’s future but not seen to be as urgent as domestic policies and economic issues.
These results also show that in 2020, the news won’t just be focusing on a single subject but will be dealing with a mix of domestic politics, economy and foreign policy. It looks like it’s going to be a rough year.