GALLUP NEWS SERVICE
PRINCETON, NJ -- "These elections show that Turks, just like any other group of people, vote their pocketbooks," said Soli Ozel, professor of international relations at Istanbul's Bilgi University in a recent speech at the Brookings Institution. After rising to power in late 2002, the AKP-run government implemented a series of structural reforms to reignite the economy. As a result, economic growth in the past five years has averaged 7% per year, and for the first time in almost four decades, inflation fell to single digits in 2004. In addition, $20 billion worth of foreign investment poured into Turkey last year, up from just $1 billion in 2002.
According to a Gallup World Poll conducted in May 2007, almost 6 in 10 Turks (59%) say they are satisfied with their current standard of living, and 41% feel their standard of living is improving. The poll also shows that, as in many countries, those in the youngest age group are the most likely to express economic optimism. Sixty-four percent of Turks aged 15 to 24 say they are satisfied with their current standard of living, compared with 55% of those aged 35 and older. In addition, respondents in the youngest age group are the most likely to say their standard of living is improving. Half of individuals aged 15 to 24 tell Gallup they feel their standard of living is getting better, but only about a third of those aged 35 and older say the same.
Job Creation Remains Key Issue
Though most Turks express satisfaction with their current standard of living, the poll also shows that most are dissatisfied with the job situation in the country. Overall, 35% say they are satisfied with efforts to increase the number and quality of jobs in the country, while 61% say they are dissatisfied. Job creation is a critical challenge Turkey shares with its neighbors in the Middle East and in Europe. To the south, 38% of Jordanians and just 16% of Lebanese say they are satisfied with efforts to increase the number and quality of jobs in their respective countries. To Turkey's west, 16% of Bulgarians and 14% of Romanians say the same. Even in many of Europe's more developed countries, such as Germany (19%) and France (34%), satisfaction with job creation efforts is low.
The AKP victory reflects a broad vote of confidence from across the Turkish electorate, including economically disadvantaged voters and traditionally privileged social classes. This new mandate may present a good opportunity to strengthen economic reforms, especially in terms of job creation. Unemployment remains in the double digits, and as these results from the World Poll show, there is still considerable room to improve Turks' satisfaction with respect to their financial well-being. As re-elected Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said of AKP's new mandate, "The burden of responsibility on our party is much bigger than before."
Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,001 adults in Turkey in May 2007, aged 15 and older. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.