Emotions and the Outlook for Turkish Politics


Economic well-being and social prosperity of the citizens are among the significant factors that determine electoral behavior. Everyone wants to lead a life in a country where they can fully have the right of freedom of speech, and other civil liberties. In a fair social order where rule of law prevails, people feel happier and more secure. In addition, in a country where people can use democratic rights such as protest, having access to independent and plural media sources and getting organized in both civilian and political terms, people feel happier.

Since 2002, the World Happiness Report has used statistical analysis measures to determine the world’s happiest countries. Its 2021 report concluded that Finland is the happiest country in the world. According to World Population Review, to determine the world’s happiest country, researchers analyze comprehensive Gallup polling data from countries monitoring performance in the following categories:

  • Gross domestic product per capita
  • Social support
  • Life expectancy
  • Freedom to make your own life choices
  • Generosity of the population
  • Perceptions of corruption levels

If we have a look at Finland’s status in political and economic aspects, we can easily see that Finland is among the countries having the least degree of corruption in World Corruption Index published in 2020. This means that political authority in Finland is accountable and transparent and this automatically empowers the prosperity of the people living in Finland.

Turkey with a population over 85.000.000 ranks 104th out of 150 countries in the 2021 World Happiness Index. According to the data, the happiness level of Turkish citizens has dropped considerably in the past years. In a country where there is government pressure and the lack of freedom of speech prevails, levels of happiness decrease. Based on this, Freedom House’s Turkey Country Report is important to address. In this report, the following answer is given as the answer to the question of “Are individuals free to express their personal views on political or other sensitive topics without fear of surveillance or retribution?”

“While many Turkish citizens continue to voice their opinions openly with friends and relations, more exercise caution about what they post online or say in public. The arbitrariness of prosecutions for alleged dissent, which often result in pretrial detention and carry the risk of lengthy prison terms, is increasingly creating an atmosphere of self-censorship. During 2020, hundreds of social media users were arrested for ‘provocative’ posts about the COVID-19 pandemic, and others continued to be detained and prosecuted for speech on topics such as the economy, ‘terrorism,’ or military operations.”

On the other hand, in terms of corruption, Turkey’s fight against corruption is not very effective. Corruption has a devastating impact on the poor population because it increases costs reducing the access to services such as education, health, and justice. Studies show that unofficial payments for services can have a particularly pernicious impact on poor people. A World Bank brief  notes that every stolen or misdirected dollar, peso, yuan, rupee, or ruble “robs the poor of an equal opportunity in life and prevents governments from investing in their human capital.” Unfortunately high levels of corruption erode people’s trust in the government and undermine economic prosperity as well and this ultimately makes people living in Turkey less happy.

Emotions shape people’s behavior. Emotions also have a role in shaping people’s voting behaviors as well. Happy people are satisfied with the social order they live in and they want to keep their living standards in the similar set. However unhappy people do not feel satisfied with their living standards and they tend to look for alternative political actors who will improve their conditions. An unemployed citizen is not supposed to vote for the ruling party on the contrary he/she will get engaged in seeking other political actors who can solve the problem of unemployment. However things in real political arena are not as simple as this. In a country like Turkey where the political opposition is not very strong, single-party rule has continued no matter how unhappy people feel. In the upcoming elections that is supposed to be held in 2023, this tradition is supposed to change because today not only emotions but also actions seem more powerful than before.

Dr.Begum Burak
Dr.Begum Burak
Dr. Begüm Burak is an independent researcher. In 2015, Ms. Burak got her PhD degree. During her occupation as a teaching assistant, she got engaged in short-term academic activities in Italy, United Kingdom, Bosnia and Spain. In 2018, she became one of the founding members of www.ilkmade.com. For her twitter visit: @begumburak1984


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