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How Erdogan won the women's vote

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan frequently angers feminist groups, but 55% of women voted for him.
Supporters of Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (not pictured) cheer as he addresses the members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at Turkish parliament in Ankara June 25, 2013. Turkish anti-terrorism police detained 20 people in raids in the capital Ankara on Tuesday in connection with weeks of anti-government protests across the country, media reports said. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX11029

On Aug. 13, A&G Research Center, one of the most prestigious research centers in Turkey, announced that 55% of women and 48% of men voted for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Aug. 10 presidential election. This was an important revelation for three reasons. First, the opposition parties and pundits in Turkey are still investigating why Erdogan won in the first round so easily. They are looking for someone to blame for Erdogan’s victory. The usual suspects are those who did not vote, particularly those on vacation who had the resources to come back to vote but not the willpower. Next was the revelation that some right-wing voters indeed preferred Erdogan to the joint candidate. Particularly, it was observed that many Nationalist Action Party (MHP) constituents opted for Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP). Now the latest suspect is “women voters.” How did Erdogan charm the female constituency?

The director of A&G, Adil Gur, told Al-Monitor that on Aug. 10, election day, his center conducted exit polls in 49 cities. The exit poll findings concurred with the three surveys the center did during the presidential campaign; in all of them, a higher percentage of women said they would vote for Erdogan than men. Another research center that has a reputation for accuracy and a high level of transparency is Metropoll. Ozer Sencar, director of the Metropoll Strategic and Social Research Center, told Al-Monitor that his center conducted five separate surveys during the presidential election campaign that consistently observed a gender gap. Sencar told Al-Monitor that about 53-54% of women said they would vote for Erdogan. Metropoll also found a reverse gender gap for presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas, head of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party. In all five surveys, almost twice as many men as women preferred Demirtas. This was intriguing because Demirtas’ rhetoric was quite supportive of women’s rights and liberties.

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