Turkey’s economic turmoil, fueled by a currency crisis amid unprecedented tensions with the United States last summer, has become the No. 1 concern of Turkish voters ahead of local elections on March 31. Two recent opinion polls suggest economic woes will sway the outcome of the elections, with the state of the economy and unemployment topping the list of what people see as the country’s primary problems.
In parallel, the surveys point to a decline in popular support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power since 2002. The AKP is contesting the local elections in partnership with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which was its electoral ally also in last year’s presidential and parliamentary polls. The question now is whether the AKP could change the popular focus on the economy or make up for the loss of votes with MHP support.