The week’s events in the Mediterranean have clouded many things, including an interesting set of opinion polls published by SONAR at the end of last month. Here are the topline percentages for voting intention, with changes from the company’s last published survey in January:
CHP: 32.5 (+5.4) [Republican People’s Party, secularist]AK Party: 31.1 (+1.6) [Justice and Development Party, governing, religious conservative]MHP: 18.6 (-1.8) [Nationalist Action Party, nationalist]BDP: 4.3 (-2.0) [Peace and Democracy Party, pro-Kurdish]SP: 3.7 (-1.8) [Felicity Party, strongly Islamist]DSP: 3.5 (+0.5) [Democratic Left Party, centre-left]DP: 2.4 (-1.7) [Democrat Party, centre-right]Others: 4.0 (+2.1)
On a crude and entirely unscientific swing, assuming the 10 percent electoral threshold is not lowered and the pro-Kurdish BDP’s 20 MPs decide to run again as independents, this poll would roughly produce the following seat distribution in parliament (with changes from the present situation):
CHP: 209 seats (+110)
AK Party: 201 seats (-135)
MHP: 120 seats (+51)
BDP: 20 seats (no change)
SONAR are making much of the fact that it is the first time their polling has shown a CHP lead for eight years. While that is a remarkable achievement, there are some points of caution:
1. AK has also recorded an increase in support, albeit considerably smaller than that of CHP.
2. Voters are becoming polarised. It appears the anti-government vote – supporters of the MHP, the BDP and the centre-right DP – is rallying behind CHP, while the CHP’s recent prominence has persuaded some supporters of the strongly Islamist SP to turn to the AK Party.
3. The difference between CHP and AK – 1.4% – is well within SONAR’s margin of error of 1.7%, which suggests CHP’s lead is still extremely slim, and that the poll could have produced a narrow AK Party lead.
The large increase in support for other parties is partly down to SONAR no longer publishing the results for the far-right Great Union Party (BBP, 2.2% in January) separately.
Most important, however, is that this poll was conducted in its entirety before Israel stormed that Turkish ship carrying aid to Gaza. The response of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the prime minister, has been strongly endorsed by many Turks. As in most cases of international crisis, the opposition – including Mr Kılıçdaroğlu – have been sidelined into issuing mild statements of support. It will be interesting to see how that reflects into the next opinion poll.
SONAR interviewed 3000 people in towns and villages in 16 Turkish provinces between 24 and 27 May 2010. The full survey can be found here.