Having spent some time in the past few days talking with working-class people in Istanbul (shopkeepers, traders, taxi drivers, housewives, and others) and residents of a village that I know well, I heard unimpeded support for AKP and PM Erdogan and a lack of sympathy for Gezi protesters, who are seen to be primarily destroyers of property who are causing financial damage to people, and who are likely steered by outside interests.
Where did these people get their news? Many watched TV, the men read Zaman. These same views were expressed by an MHP voter, so approval of AKP’s infrastructural improvements didn’t mean someone would vote for them (In this case, the man voted MHP because he found the other parties too corrupt in doing his business.) Corruption was a big complaint against the AKP, but also the CHP.
In the village, Gezi might have been happening on another planet. People really weren’t that interested, having made up their minds that this was a bunch of hooligans and that it was under control.
A delicate question that might arouse the antagonism of my many liberal friends who are very invested in this new and wonderful display of non-ideological, non-party-linked social solidarity: Are we romanticizing the impact of Gezi?