Turkish Opinion Poll Finds Majorities Slam Erdogan policies on Alcohol, Syria

On Sunday night into Monday morning in Turkey, clashes again broke out between demonstrators and police in a number of cities, and an attempt was made to set the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters on fire with molotov cocktails in the Mediterranean port of Izmir. Night time barricades had been thrown up in Istanbul, and the prime minister’s provincial office in that city was put under special guard. The Interior estimated that there were protests in 67 cities.

On Sunday, the Taksim demonstrations and kindred ones across Turkey grew to be significant, amounting to tens of thousands of people. Police withdrew from Taksim Square in Istanbul, but in Akara and other cities continued to use tear gas and water cannon in ways that injured dozens of people. Some 1600 have been at least briefly detained, though most have been let go.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan went on television to ridicule the charge made by many in the streets, that he is a ‘dictator.’ Erdogan’s party has consistently grown in parliament since it first won in 2002, and they gained over 50% of the vote in June of 2011.

Euronews reports:

The unrest reflects a sense among young people that Erdogan’s AK Party is invading and attempting to control public space. When I was in Istanbul last August, friends took me for a walk in the bohemia of Istiklal Street (scene of some of these demonstrations), and showed me how the sidewalk cafes and restaurants where people went to drink beer had been confined to a few side streets by the AK-dominated municipality. But I think the larger issue is a sense of police and other governmental regimentation and brutality. One Turkish youth suggested to me that the police in particular seem to have become in some cities a kind of militia for the prime minister. I can’t confirm such a thing, but the sentiment is revealing.

Some statistics from a recent poll suggest that the discontent with a moralizing nanny state is widespread. The USG Open Source Center translated Yalcin Dogan’s “Survey Finds Turks Disapprove of Alcohol Restriction, Policy on Syria” from Hurriyet Online for Sunday, June 2, 2013. It give the following polling numbers on the restriction of alcohol sales to before 10 pm.

“Those who say it is an intervention into the way of life make up 60.8 percent of the population.

Some 34.7 percent of the population consume alcoholic drinks. . . .”

“‘Has anybody using alcohol caused any harm to you?’ Those who say they did not make up 92.9 percent of the population. Those who say they did constitute 7.1 percent.”

“‘Could the restriction on alcohol use stop you from using alcohol?'” Some 75.9 percent say it could not while 24.1 percent say it could.”

Some 70.8 percent of respondents said that they think “the AKP’s (Justice and Development Party) policy on Syria is wrong…”

Even within the Ak Party, about 32 percent rejected Erdogan’s vocal support for the rebels over the Syrian government.

Erdogan is said to be thinking of adopting a French mode of a strong directly-elected presidency. Most Turks think that is a bad idea:

“The percentage of those who do not want [a presidential] system is 79.3.” Four out of five persons are against the presidential system.”

“More importantly, 65 percent of the AKP electorate are against that system. This is a very high ratio.”

Posted in Turkey | 17 Responses | Print |

17 Responses

  1. Hurriyet Online is an openly anti-AKP, pro-Kemalist tabloid publication. I would not trust a poll published from there on AKP policy.

    Such ‘liberal-secular’ voices in Turkey tend to be democratically unrepresentative, and manipulative to favour the Kemalist-Left. They sideline and underplay the religiously practising majority, who have repeatedly backed and voted in Erdogan in, to big electoral (and referendum) wins – largely due to the fact that Turkish Kemalist ‘secularism’ (from from the liberal secularism of Western Europe) manifests itself as religiously oppressive, to the religious free expression [seen in issues such as headscarves] of the Muslim majority (In simply seeking “free religious expression”, the opposing ‘secularists’ and Turkish opposition exaggerate – to play into western stereotypes and galvanise the youth, into fears of ‘creeping islamisation’ – in reality, in Turkey, the alcohol limitations restricted selling hours in a manner that is STILL more liberal than many other European nations [and the previous law had little/no limitations, in a manner that’s more liberal than most western European nations]! Yet the fact that it conveniently plays into “islamist” fears, has made it headline news – it’s little but a change to selling hours and licensing laws – clubs and bars, can still sell alcohol).

    A AKP voter said it well on twitter: We don’t march on the streets, we vote in the elections.

    • you would prefer, prehaps, ANA, the “official” source whose reporting is so corrupt that Zaman has dropped its service:

      Zaman daily editor-in-chief and Media Group CEO, Ekrem Dumanlı, explained the reasons behind the group’s decision to part ways with Anatolia in a column published in both Zaman and Today’s Zaman on Monday. The following is an excerpt from his column:

      “For a long time, the Anatolia news agency has been having problems with the Turkish media. However, for some reason, no one wanted to raise their voice against the agency. Everybody has complained about some of the improper practices of the agency, but people were waiting in hopes of some improvement. For instance, the agency requests extra money from papers for reports that it considers exclusive. But they are mostly not exclusive; a report delivered to all would not be considered exclusive. But when we point this out, Anatolia gets upset. Besides, the reports they consider exclusive are related to public institutions or events using public funds. It is impossible to tolerate such injustice.”

      In his question, Oran accused Anatolia of not abiding by media ethics and asked: “By employing censorship on the opposition, don’t you make the service received by media institutions that only subscribe to AA [the Anatolia news agency] but not the ANKA, CİHAN, DHA and İHA [other news agencies] flawed?”

  2. I am forwarding for your perusal an email I have just received via an international network of urban activists ‘Reclaiming Spaces’ whose website (which is slow to update) describe themselves as an ‘international space for exchange & reflection of urban activists’.

    The email is written by Orhan Esen. It is long but not rambling. He writes “Situation in istanbul changed and changes every minute very fastly.” It is imbued with the urgencies and complexities of a phase shifting uprising.

    Martin Slavin

    dear friends, colleagues,

    The following is a personal evaluation of the happenings in Istanbul as per june 2nd sunday PM, as far as i could obtain material from last weeks observations at field and from social media. Due to overwhelming amount of input inaccuracies may be anavoidable. hence the organisation as single notes.
    have also a look to my extensive background information article on Taksim project in turkish links below, (*)

    I apologize for not having been available for all personal requests on interviews, meetings this week.
    I hope this report helps as a preliminary statement

    any feedback welcome
    best in solidarity, orhan esen

    Situation in istanbul changed and changes every minute very fastly.

    yesterday, June 1st Sat, possibly over a million people marched to taksim square from all over the metropolis (and the country), and police forces withdrew from the taksim area. It was one of the the most extraordinary days Istanbul ever witnessed in its 2700 years history, everyone will admit. Call it whatever you may wish.

    important remark first:
    the police terror shifted to nearby besiktas neighbourhood surpassing any level of cruelty so far known. most horrendeous reports hint to the usage of a new chemical matter. human rights violation of a next level occured at besiktas / dolmabahce area last evening. situation must have been very serious, social media is full with worst stories. people suffered in a way that no one was even able to capture images or like. the kind of gas used (definetely not the common teargas) in besiktas in the evening hours must be interrogated. ( i have no further details as per this moment)

    note: in besiktas there is another very important right to the city issue (privatization of their cost in front of the prime ministers office / exclusion from space) and particularly the Besiktas FC fans were very actively and radically supporting the Taksim issue from the second day of the occupy action on and are very much pissed with premier Erdogan as they justly feel that tphe prime has literally ‘stolen their waterfront’. a very personal issue+ there.

    and some notes on a political analysis of the situation here:
    that mass situation as per yesterday, will be analyzed by many from different angles. i ll try to capture a few main features.

    – the character of the big mass that entered the square has changed. the original occupy movement with the aim to save the park absolutely lost control over the situation. ı dont say this to blame: it would have been technically absolutely impossible.

    – but also: if anyone or any”body” says, it has control over the political situation: question it. the situation is developing in a very spontaneous way, for sure many different actors applying their own agendas. Technically a coordination of leftwing political groups is organizing the event on the Taksim square and gezi park today, june 2nd.

    – that new movement spread out to entire country. hard clashes took place all over. its not any more a taksim gezi park movement alone. taksim has turned a symbol or code. not exclusive content any more.

    – it has become a very general, very wide spectrum mass movement with a strong secularist undertone. a movement of all secularists, who are opposing to and discontent with either the very nature or simply with the current governing style of an authoritarian conservative government.

    – this means at the same time: the ‘right to the city’ character of the original movement has strongly undergone. It is not a genuine “occupy” or “right tot the city” movement any more. if the term is appropriate: “occupy is politically occupied or overshadowed”.

    – example: groups like anti-capitalist muslims, who were integral part of the original right to the city / occupy movement / resistance officially disappeared (at least became invisible concerning their banners). i did not hear any more paroles spent on the taksim project, as was dominating the original movement. this was the case, even on friday when nearly 50 000 people passed over the park and still were trying to collect their own garbage, still when being treated with teargas.

    – from personal and mass experience point of view, the situation has an immense emancipating impact. There is a very undeniable “revolutionary” moment to all. After the “liberation of Taksim” hundreds of thousands of young people, many with their families enjoy this once in a life feeling. Its a big festival of freedom simultaneously.

    – with the new situation at Taksim, as per 1st june, the demolition of the police campus at the entry of taksim gezi park, as well as the headquarters of the construction company (both in neighbouring prefabricated containers, both rudely occupying the park entry since months) seem to reflect wide spread consensus of the gathered mass. all close nearby public utilities such as bus terminals etc were uneffected. a selective deconstruction took place.

    at night further demolitions of construction machines -for the tunnel under construction, the startup phase of the taksim project since november 5th 2012, took place. taksim tunnel project under construction stopped. (an extensive comment on the tunnel project is in my article)

    as there is no authority anymore, particularly at nite, further demolishings by unidentified persons -as habitual in such cases- at any further target obviously occured. it is expected that mainstream media will make extensive coverage with that.

    – the new tone of the demonstrations is the request for the government to withdraw. (not for “early elections”, lets say or for “the change of the unfair electoral system” that does not allow a good representation but only strong parliamentary majority)

    – Republican leader Kilicdaroglu’s words a week ago in front of the socialist international to compare Erdogan with Assad as a dictator, which resulted in a very cold reaction of / mental exclusion from the assembly (pointing to the elected character of Erdogan compared to Assad) reflects this mood very well. The republican inacceptance of electoral results since 3 periods must be noted at this point. Republicans canceled a planned demonstration on asian side and have asked for mass mobilization to Taksim on May 31st instead.

    – phantasms about post-conquest Taksim are shifting dramatically apart, and getting respectively maximalistic on the other side as well: the very same day (june 1st) , the prime minister Erdogan openly talked about a new police blockade and the total cleansing of the square, cutting down all trees, developing that building on the gezi park, as projected, and even going further: demolishing the opera house@taksim (which is currently being restored with government money !) The new police barricade did not occur.

    another very frank but very problematic statement followed: an elected government is only to be controlled by voters every 4 years, in between any intirvention should be allowed without questioning. he only admitted that police may have gone a bit too far in usage of teargas. (possibly the reason for the experiment with a new gas in besiktas ! )

    – also to note: the republican movement clearly present at Taksim did not do business as usual, (so far) they did not demand ‘the army to duty’ as in former republican mass rallies like a few years ago. If this position continues, this might help them witnessing their own power as such, gaining self confidence. Taksim events may become a major milestone for the republicans to become a part of the democratic system. (“we are powerful enough, we do not need a bug brother to watch upon us, our presence is well justified, we are part of this country, no one can touch us, our identity, dignity and way of life.”)

    – however, very obscure and in my view threatening annonces made appearence in social media (such as “armed muslims attacking/slaughtering demonstrators”) . obviously to provoke the republican sentiments, to foster escalation.

    – as per 1st june, the very official words of Erdogan 2 weeks ago, to ban any political activity from taksim square eternally, has become de facto reduntant and history. the left wing groups revolutionary instinct or reflex widely recognized the potential of the taksim conflict. june 1st, was widely conceived as a delayed may 1st, 2013 celebration which was first of technical reasons forbidden at Taksim this year, and soon officially banned forever. Taksim square was flagged with banners of all left movements, simulating the mayday.

    – the “conquest” of the square, triggerede revolutionary mood: is about to officially demanding the withdrawal of the government. (just like once the tzar. analogies to octoberrevolution are not seldom articulated in these circles) nothing else is good enough. a simple and logical demand “the taksim project should be renegotiated” (=hmm: childish) is simply overheard, as we are in revolutionary state now. (=the revolution will possibly solve the park issue in future as a minor technical detail; “our technicians” know it much better than theirs).

    – a very personal remark (for future) here: I am (potentially) concerned about a possible escalation, vis a vis of the peace process underway in kurdistan. circles openly opposing the peace process, like ultra republican “workers party” and likes openly showed flags yesterday on the square. right wing nationalist mhp members/symphatisants have been often reported having taking part in the clashes with the police forces. left wing circles distanced to / sceptical about peace process simply since it is inaugurated by the AKP, are very present at taksim. circles planning torpedoing the peace process cannot possibly find better pre conditions.

    – the government should not / cannot be as stupid as not seeing that finishing a war in the east of the country cannot be accompanied by the inauguration of another war in the west. The secularized west, (be it right or not) definetely perceives many very recent intirventions and policies of the government as declaration of war to their lifespheres. Public drinking becoming a major component of the protest acts is significant hereby.

    – BDP/HDK, representative of the kurdish movement and its allies, has been strongly present at the initial (‘occupy’) phase through the very person of Sırrı Sureyya Onder, deputy at the parliament, who played a key role in stopping the bulldozers. He got injured with a gas bullet and shortly disappeared. A stronger statement / involvement of the BDP and its allies in HDK will surely help to normalize the situation as well to secure and reestablish democratic standards.

    – the original, founding Taksim Platform’s appeal “Taksim hepimizin ! / Taksim belongs to everybody (or all of us) !” a clear appeal to pluralist use and participatory planning of the Taksim square has been undermined. The widely accepted secularist slogan, widely accepted by most secularist circles ” Taksim Bizim ! / Taksim belongs to Us”, as a claim to exclusive usage of urban space is in my view not unproblematic.

    here i attach the turkish original of the actual press release of the Platform as per this morning, June 2nd.

    The initial taksim platform
    link to taksimplatformu.org

    has released the following declmaration this morning:

    1. Gösteri ve yürüyüş yapmak anayasal ve demokratik bir haktır. Parkı, yeşili ve ağaçları korumak isteyenlere şiddet uygulamak ise suçtur.
    2. Bu amaçla hareket eden yaşlı genç, hasta, sağlıklı insanların üzerine yoğun şekilde biber gazı sıkmak ve şiddet uygulamak vahim bir insan hakları ihlali ve işkencedir.
    3. Farklı görüşlerden oluşan çok sayıda uzmanla yola çıkan ve bağımsız sivil bir insiyatif olan Taksim Platformu projenin duyurulduğu ilk günden beri yönetimle Taksim’e yapılması planlanan müdahaleyi konuşmaya çalışıyor. Yönetimin görüşmek yerine şiddeti, kaba kuvveti tercih etmesi kabul edilemez.
    4. Yönetimin Taksim’deki ağaçlara zarar vermeyeceğinin sözünü vermesini istiyoruz. Taksim’e yapılacak inşaattan vazgeçilmesini ve kentin merkezindeki en büyük yeşil alanın mevcut ağaçlara zarar verilmeden genişletilmesini ve STK’ların da katılımı ile daha iyi korunmasını talep ediyoruz.
    Aksi halde yönetim İstanbul’un en önemli yeşil alanını yok etmeye çalışan ve bu nedenle halkı ayaklandıranlar olarak tarihe geçecektir.
    5. Bu gerçekler doğrultusunda halkın demokratik ve toplumsal tepkisini dile getirmesine desteğimiz devam edecektir.
    “Taksim Hepimizin!”

    the other issue based organization directly focused on the Gezi Park, Taksim Gezi Park Protection and Beautification Association, established 2013
    link to facebook.com
    link to taksimicinayagakalk.com

    they will release an appeal as well, ill forward it.

    final words: i am often asked what the demands of an international solidarity campaign should be. i can certainly state the following,

    – the usage of any chemicals on demonstrators should be banned immediately.

    – responsibles for harsh and unjust treatment of peaceful occupiers that has led to escalation of the conflict should be investigated.

    – taksim square’s function also as a space for istanbuls citizens political visibility should be preserved. both the squares’ and the adjacent gezi parks’ physical properties -regarding security etc- should be developed.

    – the taksim project should be re-negotiated as a whole in a pharticipatory process. the green herein should not be touched.

    – a monument commemorating the souls of the 37 people who died on the bloody mayday 197

    best regards, orhan

    links for my article, written as soon as the construction works on the tunnel began (Taksim, November 5th., deciphring a coup d’etat)
    so far in turkish only.
    link to yesilgazete.org
    link to turnusol.biz

    or a better print version, in Birikim monthly, feb 2012

    • Well, he’s right that things are fluid. It’s important to note that some police in plain clothes and AKP are acting as provocateurs as well; that was the scene last night in Besiktas. it’s also quite understandable that even though Taksim proved the final straw that the months of accelerating provocation by the PM would also flow into the protests. it’s their nature, of course.

      Certainly one of the changes I witness is that the apolitical have joined the protest, people I couldn’t have imagined would be in the streets are.

      Yes, KK’s comment on RTE as Assad was foolish, but not so treacherous as Erdogan accusing him of complicity in the Reyhanli bombing.

  3. Where the Turks are leading it is better to stop alcohol as Turkey is much Islamic population .
    As for every Muslims are looking for the change from where Muslims lost .
    Change in Turkey will rise the power of the Islamic world .

  4. Except for the violence, this is all pretty good news.
    Seems Turks feel like me: I might support a state religion, but only if it was my religion. If another religion, no thanks.

  5. And now the latest: Erdogan is hinting that foreign actor(s) may be behind the protests.

    link to hurriyetdailynews.com

    He’s also quoted saying that the growth in per capita income has had made some “jealous.”

    The crisis has laid bare Erdogan’s autocratic & thin-skinned approach toward governing. The Justice and Development Party considers itself special but its bet on unilateralism is historically not very different from previous regimes. It is on a collision course with history.

  6. Apart from the ‘lifestyle’ issues on which Erdogan seems to have painted himself into a corner, I suspect he could do considerably more to improve his image on the ‘political’ side of the equation by taking a more public, definitive and substantive stand on the Israeli-Palestinian issues where his voice seems to have weakened coincident with Turkey’s growing involvement with the anti-Assad rebels and alignment with U.S policy interests.

    Indeed the Turkish people have one of the lowest images of Obama and the U.S. of any country in the world surveyed by Pew Research and surely this issue plays no small part in that.

  7. I wonder how long it will be before Obama says that “Erdogan has lost his authority to govern and must step down.”

    • You’re that sure the Turkish government is going to start killing people in the streets like the Tunisian, Egyptian, Libyan, and Syrian governments did prior to Obama making those statements?

  8. None of this is a surprise to anyone who’s been following the news from Turkey. RTE has relied on support from the urban secular middle class and had gotten it in the past — even in 07 and 11 because of the economy.

    at this point, he’s ridden them as he’s ridden various opposition parties and discarded them when he thought they were no longer necessary — in this case thinking the Kurdish opening would deliver BDP support for his presidency.

    But it’s Syria, it’s alcohol, it’s the THY (Turkish Airlines) rules on stewardesses and proposed new outfits, it’s the increasingly not only Islamist but specifically Sunni politics, the corruption, the sense that growth is stalling but enrichment of AKP cronies is unabated, and a foreign policy in total disarray.

    Are you following the recriminations and lies about Reyhanli? Do you really believe that a car-load of explosives was oh-so-conveniently found yesterday at the al-Hawa border gate? or Anadolu news Service’s <60 protesters injured, twice as many cops?

    The Turks, like the rest of us, don't like being lied to.

  9. As you have pointed out in earlier posts, the sources of opposition to AK Party and to Erdogan personally are both domestic and foreign. Some of the domestic opposition from the disaffected generals and their supporters is reactionary and negative. However, a large number of secular Turks do not like the direction that the AK Party is moving the country. Many people react to some simple but personal issues such as the growing prohibition of alcohol and the increasing victimization of girls and women who wish to appear in public in Western dress. Many democratic-minded Turks are also objecting to Erdogan’s growing authoritarian rule, his suppression of the press and his intolerant attitude towards the opposition.

    As far as foreign policy is concerned, many Turks still see themselves as Europeans and their future to be as part of the European Union, but AKP’s growing Islamization of the society and Erdogan’s close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria are moving Turkey away from Europe and closer to fundamentalist Sunni regimes. The explosions that happened in Turkey a few weeks ago that resulted in dozens of casualties have shaken up the population, as they believe that Syrian insecurity is spreading to Turkey. Also many Turks disapprove of what they regard as Erdogan’s pro-American policies. It is not often realized that Turkey has one of the most anti-American populations in the Middle East. Many Turks see the anti-Syrian policy to be part of the Western and Israeli plan to weaken the Axis of Resistance against Israel.

    Turkey’s stock market fell by six percent when it opened on Monday. If the protests escalate, and there are many signs that it will not die down too quickly, all the economic gains of the last few years will be wasted. Erdogan’s dismissal of the opposition as thugs and leaving on his North African tour in the middle of the worst crisis faced by Turkey for many decades show his insensitivity to what is going on. Even at this late hour, the best policy for the AKP government is to publicly give guarantees that Turkey’s secularism will not be undermined, and that Turkey is going to scale down its support for Syrian rebels.

  10. Erdogan blames Twitter for the demonstrations across the county. That is, he sees freedom of communication as his enemy.

  11. I have not seen much video of Erdogan, but I always find it a troubling sign when anyone in a position of power acts so smug and can’t empathize with the “other” side at all – your not just the leader of the people who agree with you when you are head of a country. His posture and body language in that brief clip is very telling. These protests, whatever their base is, are very interesting coming in what is generally perceived to be a peaceful democratic country.

  12. The protests seem initiated by a) a desire to drink beer after 10pm, b) the wish to make out in public, and c) an attempt to save a city park. It is unclear that these protests are entirely nonviolent or that these and all other concerns could not be addressed at the ballot box. Still, it is just a little gratifying to see Erdogan get a taste of his own medicine after what he has helped do to Syria. I pray that the same horrors are not visited upon the Turks.

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