Turkey’s coronavirus pandemic has worked in Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s favour with the president’s approval rating surging to a record high, research firm Metropoll said in a March 2020 survey.
Erdoğan’s rating leapt to 55.8 percent in March, up 14.7 percentage points from 41.1 percent in February. The increase was partially accredited to supporters from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party.
The pollster said a possible cause for the increased rating was the desire by societies to seek “strong leadership” when faced with extraordinary and chaotic times, like the pandemic.
In contrast, those who did not approve of the president’s mandate dropped from 51.7 percent in February to 39.9 percent.
Metropoll pointed out that it last measured Erdoğan’s recent level of support during the August-September 2016 period, shortly after a failed coup attempt in July that year.
However, the survey emphasised that ratings for Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş – both from the CHP – shared similar outcomes, suggesting that support for “strong leadership” was not exclusive to the Turkish president.
Between Dec. 2019 and Feb. 2020, the approval ratings of all Turkish politicians had dropped, only to rise again in March 2020, the polling firm said.
According to the research, the top five civil servants to benefit from the change were Erdoğan, who had the highest rating, followed by İmamoğlu, Yavaş, opposition centre-right Good Party’s Meral Akşener and AKP ally Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahçeli, respectively.
Before the pandemic, Erdoğan’s approval rating had steadily dropped since Turkey’s increased intervention in Syria’s Idlib province in 2020, ultimately resulting in the deaths of at least 36 Turkish soldiers from a Syrian air raid.
The president last saw a spike in his rating, 51.7 percent in October, when Turkey launched a cross-border military operation against Kurdish-led groups in Syria’s northeast.