Quite in contrast to my predictions of a tight result at Turkey’s constitutional referendum on 12 September, GENAR have released a poll that suggests quite a strong yes vote:
The poll predicts a turnout of 87 percent, which is higher than the last referendum (67 percent) and strikes me as rather high even by Turkey’s recent electoral record. Predictably, much of the voting is along party lines: a crushing number of governing AK Party supporters (98.1%) will vote yes, while a similarly huge number of opposition CHP supporters (91.8%) will vote no.
Murat Yetkin writes in today’s Radikal that the Kurdish vote is something Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, prime minister, is depending on to pass his prized reforms. The pro-Kurdish BDP has boycotted the referendum, but more than half of its supporters say they will vote anyway and are more likely to vote yes than not, GENAR’s polling suggests. BDP leaders have offered to support a yes vote in exchange for some promises for further reform from the government, but polling like this appears to indicate the BDP holds less influence over Kurdish voters than it likes to believe.
GENAR asked about awareness of the package being put up for referendum: 80.3% said they hadn’t read the proposed changes. Of those who had, a narrow majority (23% vs 20%) said they would be voting yes. Those who they had followed debates in the media to some degree (59.7%) were more likely to be voting no.
I’ll have more analysis of the referendum package – and that all-important Kurdish vote – in the coming days.
General election voting
GENAR also asked how respondents would vote if there was a general election on Sunday. The headline percentages were (with changes from the last GENAR poll I covered in January):
AK Party: 41.0 (+4.5) [Justice and Development Party, governing, religious conservative]
CHP : 28.0 (+5.1) [Republican People’s Party, secular]
MHP : 14.9 (-3.9) [Nationalist Action Party, nationalist]
BDP : 5.1 (-2.0)* [Peace and Democracy Party, pro-Kurdish]
SP : 2.7 (-1.3) [Felicity Party, strongly Islamist]
Others : 8.3 (-2.5) [includes independents]
The changes look quite large, but remember that there is an eight-month gap between this and the previous poll. Support for AK is up; support for the CHP is up by a greater amount, attributable to the rise of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
More interesting is the exodus from the right-wing MHP: almost a third of people who voted MHP at the 2007 general election said they would not vote for them again. A quarter of these floaters said they would now switch to CHP. This reflects a trend in recent GENAR polls: many MHP voters appear to be disenchanted with their party. Only 74 percent said they would support their party’s position at the upcoming referendum (as opposed to 98 percent and 92 percetof AK and CHP voters respectively). Turkish voters at large seem to feel the same way: 84 percent said they could never imagine Devlet Bahçeli, MHP leader, becoming prime minister.
How would these latest voting intentions look in parliament? Well, keep in mind that the following is a crude uniform swing, assuming the BDP’s 20 MPs run as independents and retain their seats (with changes from the present situation):
AK Party: 259 (-77)
CHP : 177 (+74)
MHP : 94 (+24)
BDP : 20 (NC)
So in parliament this would represent a clear swing from AK to CHP. It would also be coalition territory: AK would be just short of the 276 seats needed to govern alone; CHP+MHP together wouldn’t be able to reach this threshold either.
GENAR interviewed 2274 people in 16 Turkish provinces between 31 July and 8 August 2010. The full survey can be found here. * Figures compared with the Democratic Society Party, now banned.