According to one poll, which is not going to be made public but was obtained by Today’s Zaman, 85 percent of ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) voters support a democratization process in Turkey. This percentage is 65 percent for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and 48 percent for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) despite their leaders’ uncompromising positions.
When the question is posed in a way involving a “Kurdish problem” and whether or not it should be solved, 85 percent of pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) voters wanted a solution, with 69-75 percent of AK Party supporters, 50-55 percent of CHP supporters and 12 percent of MHP supporters agreeing. Among DTP supporters, only 15 percent oppose the initiative. People who totally oppose the Kurdish initiative remain at 19 percent. Between CHP and MHP voters, opposition to the Kurdish initiative is between 19-20 percent.
The government and the main opposition parties, the CHP and the MHP, have been engaged in a fierce battle while the government has been seeking public consensus on the issue. In the process, PM Tayyip Erdoğan has broken his policy of not engaging with the DTP — because the DTP does not declare the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) a terrorist organization — and had a meeting with its leaders.
Bekir Bozdağ, deputy chairman of the AK Party parliamentary group, said the Turkish public is quite supportive of the Kurdish initiative according to polls conducted in the provinces of Adana, Ankara, Bursa, Diyarbakır, Erzurum, Mersin, İstanbul, İzmir, Kayseri, Malatya, Trabzon, Van and Yozgat by three separate polling firms. The results were analyzed by a 10-person team under Minister of Interior Beşir Atalay.
Bozdağ said the Interior Ministry also talked with leaders from five political parties, six unions, 43 civil society organizations and 18 foreign and domestic intellectuals about the initiative.
Today’s Zaman’s sources stated that in the latest poll, the public’s support for the Kurdish initiative was as high as 64 percent as opposed to an earlier poll which showed 55 percent of respondents supporting the initiative.
Another result of the polls shows that 59 percent of the Turkish public thinks that the initiative can be successful only with the support of the opposition. Bozdağ said CHP and MHP voters supported the opening in contradiction to the stance of their party leaders.
“It is important that the public wants to resolve the problem even at the beginning stages of the opening,” Bozdağ said. “We did not obtain such support even in issues concerning the resolution of the Cyprus problem, support for the EU membership and the March 1 motion [in 2003 in Turkish Parliament opposing US troops from opening a northern front before the Iraqi war started].”
Bozdağ stated that it is obvious that MHP voters do not support the opening in large numbers but that CHP voters are much more supportive.
“We believe the CHP leadership will take this result into consideration,” he said.
Moreover, 16 percent of CHP voters said they did not understand why their party is opposing the Kurdish initiative.
On the other hand, 53 percent of MHP supporters do not want the MHP to take part in any collaborative effort to solve the Kurdish issue.
Among CHP voters, 35 percent opposed the democratization package, while 42 percent of MHP supporters opposed it. When asked about the Kurdish initiative, 19 percent of CHP and 20 percent of MHP voters are opposed to it.
People living in the traditionally conservative and nationalist provinces of Nevşehir, Kırşehir, Yozgat and Niğde are as supportive of the Kurdish initiative as people in the Kurdish areas of the country.
The Kurdish conflict in Turkey has cost the lives of about 40,000 people since 1984, resulted in more than 17,000 unsolved murders, cost billions of dollars in military expenditure and countless billions more in wasted opportunities.
Cabinet discusses flood victims at meeting
A Cabinet meeting was held on Monday to discuss ways to help the people who were affected by the disastrous floods that hit northwestern Turkey last week.
The floods triggered by heavy rain hit several northwestern provinces including İstanbul. They claimed the lives of 41 people and led to substantial material damage.
Some suburbs in İstanbul were partially submerged, with rains leaving swaths of land awash. Floods swamped hundreds of houses and places of business and turned highways into raging rivers. Among the areas most affected by heavy rains were İkitelli, Çatalca, Silivri, Sultangazi, Gaziosmanpaşa, Arnavutköy, Cebeci, Eyüp, Esenler and Bağcılar. Floods also paralyzed life in the northwestern Tekirdağ and Edirne provinces.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet with National Security Council (MGK) members today to exchange views on the government’s democratization project, which is aimed at solving Turkey’s long-standing Kurdish problem.