Washington, DC – IRI’s third Turkish public opinion survey of the year, conducted between December 18, 2010 and January 4, 2011, shows that the electorate continues to be optimistic about the direction of the country but also reveals lingering concern over unemployment. Fifty percent of respondents believe that Turkey is headed in the right direction. While 43 percent of those polled said the economy was better than it was five years ago, only 27 percent thought that their family’s economic situation had improved, down from 34 percent in October 2010.
Unemployment continues to be the primary issue of concern among voters, and respondents say that fighting unemployment and combating terrorism will be the top two issues for them in the next general elections. When asked to evaluate the government’s performance on 14 separate issues, fighting unemployment received the lowest average rating, 3.77 on a 10 point scale. Moreover, a plurality of respondents believes that the political rhetoric has focused too much on the Southeastern problem (the way in which Turks refer to the issue of Kurdish integration and nationalism in Turkey) and not enough on unemployment.
Optimism remains high at the local level with 69 percent of respondents reporting that things are headed in the right direction in their municipalities. Road conditions and the local economy are the most pressing issues for municipal governments. There is also a strong willingness among citizens to participate in local citizen councils, though very few people have proven willing to provide money or other resources to local political parties; only three percent reported having done so.
IRI’s survey continued to gauge Turkish attitudes toward the European Union (EU). Fifty-six percent of Turks believe that EU membership is a good thing, which marks a nine point decline from October 2010. Economics continues to be the driving force behind the support for European integration while the weakening of national identity and religious values were cited as the most significant disadvantages of EU membership.Top