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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

CHP surges in first post-protest opinion poll

One way of assessing the political implications of the unrest in Turkey, which has entered its fifteenth day, is to look at what opinion polling has to say. Politicians, reporters and foreign observers alike are all keen to know how the events have affected how the country intends to vote.

We may now have the results of the first serious attempt at polling in the last two weeks. They show a significant narrowing of the gap between the governing AK party and the opposition CHP.

The headline figure (with changes from Gezici's last poll in May) is AKP 38.5% (-3.2), CHP 31.8 (+3.6), MHP 18.5 (-1), BDP 8.2 (-0.9).

The result is the strongest CHP showing that I've seen since just after current leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's election in May 2010. Consider this graph:

Friday, 7 June 2013

Erdoğan's hidden safety net

There's plenty of speculation out there on the implications of the last eleven days for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's political future. The Economist called this week for him to step down next year and make way for President Abdullah Gül. Ben Judah argued in the Financial Times that the prime minister needed to see this as his "1968 de Gaulle moment". Others have said any Erdoğan departure would lead to the immediate implosion of his Justice and Development (AK) party and the splintering of his centre-right/conservative/moderately Islamic coalition.

Perhaps. I will freely admit I am not in a position to guess what will happen next. No-one is, really. Right now, events on the ground feel a little like a swinging pendulum: first there was the calm when the police withdrew from Taksim, then there were the clashes in Beşiktaş. We then had the widely-publicised apology from deputy prime minister Bülent Arınç, but the pendulum swung back after we saw a greater police crackdown in Ankara

Saturday, 1 June 2013

From street battle to street party

I have to admit I felt just a little awkward. Four-wheeled cabin baggage would not have been my apparel of choice while walking into a riot zone, but I had no choice.

I am in Istanbul this weekend to attend the wedding of an old friend. My hotel, booked weeks ago, is a small place in the backstreets of Şişli, just a few streets away from a certain Gezi Park. It's normally a two minute walk from Taksim's metro station; today, I had to find my way on foot from Mecidiyeköy, several kilometres away, as passers-by warned me there was tear gas about.

What follows is an account of what I saw.