15th of July Friday night was a particularly long one for the residents of Turkey. It wasn’t just the usual summer heat that kept them awake. It was the noise of the low-flying F16 fighter jets, and the imminent fear of what may be coming next.
In the late hours of the night, the Turkish public started getting confusing messages from the media. Some claimed that the Turkish military seized state power and others stated that President Erdoğan foiled the coup attempt.
As the events unfolded, multiple theories were offered to explain the military and social unrest. Turkish President Erdoğan has demanded US arrest of exiled Gülen for plotting the coup attempt, while Gülen has implied that the coup may be staged.
But what do the people of Turkey think? Amid the social chaos of the coup attempt, Streetbees has launched a real-time opinion poll to ask the Turkish citizens what they think of the events, the government and the country’s future.
To give voice to the general public and to monitor the social sentiment in real time, the poll was launched an hour after the news broke on Friday night. Between 15 and 17 July, 2,832 people participated in the poll from all around the country, expressing their opinions and expectations.
47% of the Turkish public agrees with President Erdoğan that Gülen is to be blamed for the coup attempt, while 32% holds the opinion that Erdoğan himself has played a role in staging the coup. A small section of the society (5%) thinks that US Authorities and CIA may also have played a role.
Regardless of who is behind it, an astonishing majority of Turkish people (82%) makes it clear that they are not supporting a military rule.
While over 40% would like Erdoğan to remain in power, 58% would like to see a new leader in government. This dissent in public opinion is manifested in many areas of governance ranging from the legal system to desired political covenant by different segments of the society.
When asked if they would like to see the Islamic Law being executed in Turkey, or maintain the existing Secular Constitution, 28% expressed their sympathy towards adopting the Islamic Law. 72% of the population disagrees in favour of a secular rule of law. Amongst the proponents of Erdoğan’s rule, however, we observe a greater level of support (60%) for adopting Sharia in Turkey.
The recent developments in Turkey has also brought the death penalty discussion into the spotlight. While capital punishment was abolished in Turkey in 2004 as part of the European Union accession negotiations, Turkey hasn’t executed anyone since 1984.
In the wake of recent events, reinstating the Capital Punishment has gained popularity particularly amongst the Erdoğan’s supporters, with 92% agreeing to execute death penalty. Overall, 58% of the general public thinks that death penalty should be reinstated in the country.
Erdoğan’s supporters and opponents also maintain different views with regards to his Executive Presidency. While 60% of his supporters think that Erdoğan’s presidency would bring further stability into the country, 88% of his opponents expect the current conditions to deteriorate. Overall, 59% of the general public think that Erdoğan’s Executive Presidency would destabilise the country further.
After the 15–17 July events that left at least 265 people killed and 1,440 wounded, there is one topic that Erdoğan’s supporters and opponents largely agree on: the subdued economic outlook.
Despite the reassurance from the Central Bank and the deputy Prime Minister regarding macroeconomic stability, only 8% of Turkish public expect their economic conditions to get better in the next 6 months, with 66% bracing themselves for a tougher economic environment in coming days.
A quick word on our methodology: For the poll, a demographically and geographically representative sample of 2,832 people in Turkey was surveyed between 15 and 17 July by mobile and web surveys and on-the-ground interviews. The data is accurate to within 3 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
20/07/16 Update: Read more about our methodology and the poll results at Financial Times: Turkey conspiracy theories proliferate as fog of war recedes