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When People Don’t Care for Democracy

When People Don’t Care for Democracy

The Economist magazine published a comprehensive section on the US Democratic Party and its politics in its latest issue. Of particular interest is the analysis it includes about the Democratic Party voters. The article talks about the multipartite structure of the Democratic voter.

For example, the Party has voters in a yoga-obsessed New Yorker as well as in the poor African-American living in Missouri. Both are voting for the same party, but they each have pretty dissimilar expectations from its policies.

It won’t be a stretch, from that point, to say that American left politics is not that different from that of the Turkish left. The right, traditionally, is a more homogenic gemeinschaft. These voters can be easily consolidated with religion and tradition. The formula is simple: a pinch of religion, a slice of indigenousness mixed with a slice of conservatism will make the perfect pie. The left, on the other hand, is tasked with bringing voters from opposite ends of the spectrum together to win an election. They have to evaluate the demands from various groups of people, come up with some principles that will speak for everyone, and consolidate their base while trying to snatch up some votes from the right.

To make the long story short, CHP is facing an uphill battle. It has to bring the young woman in Izmir who enjoys drinking beer, with the farmer working in Corum while trying to entice the conservatives in Rize to vote for them.

If you ask me, the only ideal that can bring all these people from opposite walks of life together is democracy. At the end of the day, who doesn’t yearn for equal opportunities, the rule of law, and democracy?

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Only if it were that easy. In their July survey, Metropol, the polling company asked people the reason they vote for their party. 23% of AKP voters say they vote for the party’s public service, while 14% of them say they vote AKP for stability. Only 1% of them say they vote for the party’s democratic practices. On the CHP side, 18% of their voters say they vote for CHP because they are Ataturk-ists, and 8% say they vote CHP for democracy. MHP voters’ prevalence for democracy in their selection is 3%. In IYI Party, that figure is 1%.

The survey points out that the Turkish public cast their vote for whichever party that is closest to them ideologically. Especially, the voters in the right predominantly vote for performance and level of public service. Thus, the phrase we keep hearing: “Say whatever you want about them, but they are working for the people.”

And that’s the left’s dilemma. What is the Left to do, when you consider that ideals of democracy have next to no effect on the average voter on the right? Would it work better for them if they tone down on the democracy rhetoric? Or is it going to have to re-define democracy -a concept which is being systematically hollowed, and re-educate the public?

It is a long and tortuous road ahead.


Originally published in Turkish at:

About The Author

Nevsin Mengu

Born in Ankara in 1982. Studied Political Science at University of Bilkent. Did her masters on Sociology at University of Galatasaray. Worked at several news outlets like Haberturk and Hurriyet. Mostly covered Middle East as a correspondent. From 2009 to 2010, worked for TRT TURK in Tehran. From 2011 until 2017, anchored CNNTURK 18 o’clock news. Now writing opinion pieces for Birgün newspaper and doing weekly interviews for Deutsche Welle.

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