This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Demographics of Turkey's Referendum Vote

On Sunday the voters in Turkey narrowly (and controversially) decided to hand President Erdogan more power than he already has. The "yes" vote was not distributed randomly, however. A story in the New York Times suggests that a new version of the urban-rural divide was at work:
Whatever the outcome of the appeals, the referendum reflected a country sharply divided, with voters in the major cities tending to oppose the changes while those in rural areas, who usually are more religious and conservative, voting in favor of them.
I use the term "new version" of the urban-rural divide because three-fourths of Turks live in urban areas, so a real divide would have seen the "no" vote win the referendum. What we see in Turkey is not unlike what happened with the Brexit vote, as I noted at the time...
Overall, then, the leavers were older whites with lower levels of education living in areas with few immigrants. As many commentators have noted, this demographic profile sounds a lot like the typical Donald Trump supporter in the US.
...and here is more detail on that support for Trump, as I noted a year ago, which indeed carried him to his win:
“It’s a nonurban, blue-collar and now apparently quite angry population,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. “They’re not people who have moved around a lot, and things have been changing away from them, but they live in areas that feel stagnant in a lot of ways.”
I like Bill Frey's phraseology of nonurban because of course countries like Turkey, the UK, and the US are not predominantly rural, but outside of the big cities there is still a more traditional attitude towards the world that is based on lower levels of education, higher levels of religiosity (regardless of the religion itself), and less appreciation of what liberal democracy compared to autocracy can mean for a society.

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