Erdogan’s Poll Rating Hits All-Time Low as Economic Woes Grow
(Bloomberg) -- Public support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party hit an all-time low last month amid disenchantment with the Turkish government’s handling of the economy, prominent pollsters said.
A sizable group of Erdogan supporters have now given up on his party but opposition parties have so far failed to provide a home for these voters, who will likely decide the future of Turkey.
“The breaking point for Erdogan supporters was the dismissal of central bank governor Naci Agbal in March triggering another sell-off in the lira,” said Can Selcuki, head of Istanbul-based pollster Turkiye Raporu. “People started to realize that Erdogan’s radical changes in the economy are not making things better.”
The lira has lost more than 13% against the dollar since the market-friendly governor was sacked shortly after a bigger-than-expected increase in interest rates. The decision to fire Agbal, who had sought to restore the central bank’s credibility, marked a swift reversal of investor enthusiasm toward Turkish markets. Erdogan holds an unorthodox belief that higher interest rates fuel inflation, and he’s fired three central bank governors in less than two years.
Metropoll’s April survey shows support for the AKP is now at 27% excluding undecided voters, the lowest level since the establishment of the party.
Erdogan himself is also suffering from an unprecedented decline in the polls. According to the pollsters, the popularity gap between Erdogan and his potential rivals in a presidential election has been growing.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas are running more than 10 percentage points ahead of Erdogan, the surveys show. Iyi Party’s Meral Aksener is also outperforming Erdogan, according to Metropoll’s April and Turkiye Raporu’s May surveys.
Main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who trails Erdogan in the polls, and Aksener are expected to spearhead efforts to agree a joint opposition candidate.
A combination of runaway inflation, high unemployment and coronavirus measures have been chipping away at the ruling party’s voter base, according to political polling companies. Opposition lawmakers have blamed the government for mishandling the economy and depleting foreign currency reserves during the two years that Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law, served as treasury and finance minister.
The increasing perception that the economy is being mismanaged, along with the opposition’s campaigns on central bank reserves, are the leading factors for the erosion in support, said Ozer Sencar, head of Metropoll. Erdogan’s crowded rallies in the midst of strict coronavirus measures and a decision to exempt tourists from lockdowns were among other reasons, according to Sencar and Turkiye Raporu.
Seventeen percent of people who voted for the AKP in the 2018 general election say they will never vote for them again, Turkiye Raporu’s study showed. Though support for Erdogan has declined, many people have yet to switch to other parties ahead of the general elections scheduled for 2023. The surveys indicate that the number of undecided voters is above 15%.
“The opposition needs to convince those people that they can manage the country better, but there is still no candidate for this in sight,” Sencar said.
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