Media outlets and polling companies have started publishing reports that claim the young people’s vote will be a game-changer in the upcoming elections. It is Generation Z, the so-called millennials, who are going to make a political statement with their vote in the Turkish elections. They constitute a sizeable portion of the eligible voters (20%) and around half of them will be casting their votes for the first time (RIS Report, 2022). Whether we are talking about Generation X, Y or Z, young people do not constitute a monolithic bloc in Turkey. The country is polarised along different ethnic, religious and ideological fault lines, and so is its youth. This is reflected in their activism, as well as their everyday lives. Turkish youth became an object of scrutiny for researchers during and after the Gezi protests and their repertoires of action and political participation were analysed by researchers both in and outside Turkey. However, new systematic studies are needed if the results the polling companies are receiving with regard to young people’s preferences and lifestyle choices in a changing Turkey are to be explained. Evidence shows that wooing youth support features on the parties’ political agendas. Strategies include investing in youth branches, organising events and festivals, as well as creating opportunities for young people, to keep them loyal to the party agendas. Do young people only express their frustration with the system through demonstrations on the streets or social media posts? No: young people are also leaving the country in protest. My recent research reveals that a sizeable group of young people tend to plan for futures outside Turkey, and that they would take any opportunity that presented itself abroad in order to leave the country permanently or temporarily.
Baser, B. (2022). Youth Politics and Activism in Turkey. [No known commissioning body]