A recent survey in Turkey highlighted a decrease in people’s confidence in the Turkish Armed Forces, an increased trust in the government, and revealed intolerance towards ethnic, sexual, and other minorities.
The level of trust towards the military was at the lowest recorded since the first survey was conducted in 1990, with 75 percent reporting confidence in the institution. That number was 90 and 86 percent in 2008 and 2009, respectively. In this latest survey, the overall confidence level in southeast Anatolia was particularly low.
Trust in the police also stood at 75 percent, while the press enjoyed the trust of a mere 41 percent of respondents.
In contrast, confidence in the government was at a high—at 61 percent. At its lowest in 1991, it was at a mere 29 percent.
“If need be, I would fight for my country,” is a statement fewer Turks will say today than five years ago, the survey showed; the percentage of those who agreed with the statement dropped from 97 percent in 2006 to 86 percent in 2011.
Only 15 percent of respondents agreed that “there is great regard and respect towards human rights in our country,” while 16 percent believed that there is no respect for human rights in Turkey.
However, the more discussed revelation was the low level of tolerance Turks have towards certain groups and people. Topping the list of those deemed intolerable were gays and lesbians (with 84 percent of respondents saying they do not desire a gay or lesbian neighbor), followed by individuals infected with AIDS (74 percent), couples living together out of wedlock (68 percent), atheists (64 percent), proponents of Sharia (54 percent), Christians (48 percent), followers of other faiths (39 percent), immigrants and foreign workers (39 percent), women who wear shorts (26 percent), those who do not fast (20 percent), and those voting for a competing political party (17 percent).
The percentage of interviewees who said religion is important to them was around 92 percent, a reality that has not changed in 15 years. Eighty-one percent considered themselves devout; 87 percent said they fast; 61 percent thought it a sin for women to wear bathing suits; 79 percent believed theirs is the one true religion; and 85 percent said they believe in creationism, not evolution.
The survey also revealed that the level of trust Turks have towards others—including family and friends— was low. Only 15 percent said they trusted others, while 61 percent said they do not trust people from other nationalities.
The survey underscored significant gender issues in Turkey: 30 percent of those surveyed said some women deserved to be beaten by their husbands—and 27 percent of women agreed—which is a stark increase from 19 percent in 1996. The survey also showed that men were deemed better politicians than women (71 percent agreed), that males were fit to head the family unit (74 percent), women ought to obey their husbands (62 percent), and men can have more than one wife (23 percent).
The survey was conducted in 54 provinces and 128 districts from June 6 to July 11, 2011, under the directorship of Bahcesehir University professor Yilmaz Esmer. The data was collected through face-to-face interviews with 1,605 randomly selected individuals aged 18 or older.
The first World Values Survey was conducted in 1981 with the participation of 25 countries. (Since then it has been repeated a number of times, with more than 400,00 people interviewed, during the periods 1996-98, 2000-01, and 2005-07.) The survey was first conducted in Turkey in 1990, giving researchers data documenting shifts within the past 20 years.
The survey report (in Turkish) can be downloaded here.