Washington, DC – IRI conducted a new public opinion survey in Turkey from September 18–30, 2010, that suggests increasing optimism in Turkey since IRI’s May 2010 poll.  Fifty-three percent of respondents believe that Turkey is heading in the right direction – a 10 percentage point increase from May.  Turks’ economic outlook also improved, as the number of those who believe their economic situation is better than five years ago improved from 32 to 43 percent, and those who believe their economic situation would improve in the next year increased from 28 to 35 percent.

Unemployment and security are of particular concern to voters, and were identified as the most important issues in the next general elections.  Turks also indicated that they want to hear more from politicians about unemployment.  When asked to evaluate the performance of the government on a range of issues, fighting unemployment received the lowest average rating: 3.85 on a 10 point scale.  The government scored highest on the issues of health care and protection of religious freedom.

At the local level, optimism is more pronounced, as 69 percent of those polled believe things in their municipalities are heading in the right direction.  Road conditions and trash collection were cited as the top reasons for that belief. 

IRI’s survey gauged attitudes on the national referendum held on September 12, 2010, that approved a series of amendments to the Turkish Constitution, the most controversial of which gave the government more influence over the country’s judiciary.  A plurality of respondents reported that they made their decision on the referendum two months before voting and that political party campaigns in the weeks leading up to the vote had little impact.

The survey also explored Turkish views on the European Union (EU) accession process.  Sixty-five percent of Turks believe EU membership is a good thing and 63 percent said they would vote for membership if the referendum were held this week.  This marks a 12-point increase since IRI’s May 2010 survey.  Respondents cited economic gains and the free movement of Turkish citizens as the most important benefits of EU membership.

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