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Feb 28 2019

Pollster Konda says March local election results are impossible to predict

Bekir Ağırdır, the head of Konda, Turkey’s leading pollster, said on Thursday that it was technically impossible to predict political party’s votes in the upcoming local elections on March 31, as alliance strategies differed across districts and provinces.

Turks will head to the polls in March for the seventh time in five years to elect 30 metropolitan city mayors, along with district mayors and municipal councils. 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is in alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), while the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has forged an alliance with the nationalist Good Party.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) nominated candidates mainly in Turkey’s south-eastern provinces, where HDP mayors elected in the 2014 local elections have been replaced with government appointees due to alleged links to outlawed Kurdish groups. In some districts, the HDP also supports the candidates of the Islamist Felicity Party and the CHP.

In an interview with journalist Hakan Aksay of T24 news site, Ağırdır said the upcoming local elections had a unique characteristic as Turkey for the first time would experience parties competing in alliances for municipal seats. Moreover, those alliances do not cover the whole country and parties follow different strategies in different districts and provinces.

“For those reasons, it is impossible to determine the parties’ overall votes in these elections. And for those reasons, it is impossible for Konda to make such a statement,” Ağırdır said.

The alliances between parties are also asymmetrical, according to Ağırdır. The pollster said, in the case of the HDP, it was impossible to foresee how HDP voters would behave in places where their party did not have candidates. “Therefore, technically, it is impossible to say something like the AKP will get that share of votes, and the CHP this share,” Ağırdır said.

Turkey’s leading pollster also said his company's surveys on various themes showed that, due to the prevalence of identity politics, Turkish voters were still casting their votes prioritising whom they are against. This would mean that even if some AKP voters are upset with the government, they would not necessarily change their preferences and vote for the opposition.

Ağırdır said the HDP’s declarations of support for other parties’ candidates in some provinces did not necessarily mean that the party’s base would as a whole cast votes to those parties, as there was a widespread resentment among Kurds after being criminalised to a large extent.

Ağırdır also criticised the results announced by other pollsters. “Let me just say this regarding our methodology. The way we do it, I mean going to households and making surveys through face to face interviews, is very costly. Believe me, saying surveys have been carried out in five provinces or sometimes in 81 provinces, implies in reality a cost of millions of lira. Therefore, the facts on who provided the finance for those surveys, or how they were financed, or how they were conducted should be explained,” Ağırdır said.