Was Gezi a Middle Class Movement?

A study carried out by SAMER (Political and Social Research Center) in December 2013 in Istanbul and Izmir analyzes the characteristics of the electorate in a number of dimensions, including their participation in or support of the Gezi movement. Contrary to the AKP government’s claims, it seems that a representative cross-section of the population participated in or supported Gezi, including a sizable percentage of Kurds. The study (in Turkish) is here. I’ve translated a rundown of the Gezi-related results from Erdem Yoruk’s column on T24.

16% (1.5 million) of Istanbul’s population participated in the Gezi protests. The study only counted respondents above age 18, so the participation of under-18s will presumably drive this number higher.

Household Income: 10% below 1000 TL a month; 29% below 1500; 58% below 2500; 16% above 5000

36% were in trades like industry, construction, textile, paper collection, restaurant, transport, and other irregular employment. 60% of those made under 1600 TL a month.

31% were employed in trades like advertising, finance, academics, insurance, education, university, public sector, culture, literature, health, real estate. They earned on average 2421 TL a month, with 50% earning below 2000 TL.

9% of the protesters belonged to a union (above the 6% participation rate in Turkish society).

Kurds make up 15% of the population of Istanbul and Izmir. 15% of them participated in Gezi, about 200,000, not counting children and youth under 18. 27% of Kurds participating in Gezi said they would vote for Sirri Sureyya Onder (the BDP candidate) in the local elections, 0.49% (less than 1 %) to AKP’s Kadir Topbas. Kurds participating in Gezi tended to be left-thinking, less religious, and young. Kurds supporting Gezi tended to be poor and to consider themselves to be leftist as well as religious.

About equal parts of the population were for (41%) and against (43%) Gezi. (15% were neither for nor against.)

The household income of people for Gezi was 202 TL a month more than those against.

These statistics contradict the arguments that:

Gezi was an elite movement and the folk were against it. (In fact, there was no difference in income between supporters and those against Gezi and participants in Gezi hailed from income and employment categories in proportions that reflected their distribution in society.)

The Kurds did not participate in Gezi. (In fact, they participated to the same extent as non-Kurds.)

The Kurds are a homogenous group. (In fact, BDP/HDP Kurds supported Gezi, while AKP Kurds were against it.)






4 Responses to “Was Gezi a Middle Class Movement?”

  1. Now that the use of ‘elite’ as a form of denigration is disliked by the folks who very willingly abused it in the past, I’ll just leave this here as a reminder: https://www.google.com/search?q=elite+kemalist+site%3Akamilpasha.com

  2. Thanks fir this. One note … I almost missed that decimal point before the 49% for Topbas; thought it a speck of dust and couldn’t understand how so many could protest and still vote for the mayor. you might for clarity want to make it 0.49% as in the original?

    @Bulent Murtezaoglu: nice link 🙂

  3. Thanks. Fixed that.

  4. IOW, Marie Antoinette and her well-pampered maids together with a litlle less regaled ex royal concubines revolted.

    We’ve since been looking for ways to find good reasons to make all this sound like a major or meaningful social movement.

    As the search continues albeit with increasingly diminished hopes, contributions towards rekindling the fire from across the ocean will be greatly appreciated.

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