New survey reveals broad Turkish public support for corruption investigations

A recent survey carried out by the MetroPOLL Strategic and Social Research Center on the ongoing corruption investigations that have implicated people close to the government shows that the public largely supports the probe that came to public attention on Dec. 17 of last year.
According to MetroPOLL, 60.5 percent of those surveyed said the prosecutors were right to proceed with the corruption investigations despite the government’s persistent efforts to portray the probes as a foreign conspiracy executed in collaboration with domestic partners and aiming to topple the government.

Only 26.5 percent of those surveyed said they did not support the investigations, while the remaining percentage expressed no opinion or did not respond.

Broken down along party lines, 39 percent of Justice and Development Party (AK Party) supporters said they agreed with the operations launched as part of the corruption probe, while 84 percent of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) followers supported the investigation. Support for the investigations is high among other opposition parties as well. Almost 77 percent of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) supporters and 72 percent of pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) supporters agreed with the investigations.

On Dec. 17 of last year, İstanbul and Ankara police staged dawn raids to detain over 50 people as part of a corruption investigation. Among the detainees were officials, well-known businesspeople and the sons of three ministers. Allegations emerged that several ministers had also been involved in bribery.

The sons of two of the ministers, as well as over 20 other suspects, have been arrested. The suspects stand accused of rigging state tenders, accepting and facilitating bribes for major urbanization projects, obtaining construction permits for protected areas in exchange for money, helping foreigners obtain Turkish citizenship with falsified documents and involvement in export fraud, forgery and gold smuggling.

When asked whether the prosecutor’s investigations have been obstructed, 58 percent of those surveyed answered in the affirmative.

In terms of party lines, while nearly 60 percent of AK Party supporters think the prosecutors have not been obstructed, 87 percent of CHP and 84 percent of MHP followers said “Yes” when asked whether obstruction has taken place.

According to the survey, nearly 64 percent of respondents stated that the media has not freely informed the public about the corruption probes.

MetroPOLL also asked which political party those surveyed would vote for if a parliamentary election were held on Sunday. According to the survey results, 36.3 percent of respondents said they would vote for the AK Party, while 23.6 percent said they would vote for the CHP and 12.6 percent said they would vote for the MHP.

The pollsters also questioned respondents about how the corruption investigations have affected their trust in the government. More than 48 percent said the corruption probes have decreased their trust in the AK Party government. Only 21.9 percent of respondents said their confidence in the government has increased after the investigations.

 Asked whether they support the government’s plans to amend the law on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), only 30.9 percent said they support the amendment, while 52 percent said they do not agree with the government’s initiative. The survey showed that almost 80 percent of CHP supporters said they are against the planned amendment, while 74 percent of MHP supporters said the same. The strongest support for the amendment came from supporters of the AK Party, with almost 55 percent.

The HSYK bill, which would allow the undersecretary of the justice minister to be elected as chairman of the HSYK, was opened to discussion and a vote in Parliament’s General Assembly last week. The first 21 articles of the bill were approved, thanks to the ruling AK Party’s majority in Parliament. The party, however, later decided to suspend the bill in the wake of what many saw as harsh criticisms from the European Union.

If the bill is passed, the HSYK will be contain two separate bodies: One will comprise an 11-member board of judges, and the other will be a seven-member board of prosecutors. If adopted, the bill will allow Parliament and the justice minister to have more say in the election of members to both HSYK bodies.

The bill also states that the board will no longer have the authority to pass decrees and circulars. Instead, the justice minister will be entitled to pass decrees and circulars on behalf of the HSYK. Furthermore, the board will be stripped of its authority to decide to launch investigations into HSYK members, and this authority will again be passed to the justice minister.

The survey also revealed that there is a significant decrease in public approval for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s way of performing his duties as prime minister. While 71.1 percent of those surveyed approved of Erdoğan’s manner in December of 2011, this percentage dropped to 39.4 in January of 2014.

The poll was carried out from Jan. 14-21 by face-to-face interviews with a random national sample of 1,545 adults residing in cities, towns and villages. The margin of error for the overall poll is 2.8 percentage points, and the confidence level is 95 percent.