Trust in CSOs is low; transparency, excessive entanglement with politics and exploitation of religious sentiments are the primary issues
Main assessments obtained from the report prepared by INGEV TAM (INGEV Social Research Center) are as follows;
Civilian participation remains low.
When asked about how civil society participation takes place, it turns out that the most common activity among the Turkish society with respect to participating in civil society is to make donations. 28% of the public say they have made a donation in the last year. These are divided among various types of donations ranging from donations of animal woolskins to monetary donations to associations. Whether such activities constitute examples of active civil society participation is questionable.
The Turkish society’s participation is lowest when it comes to political civil society activities. Only 3.6% of the public have participated in a political activity within the last 12 months. Considering that local elections were held during this period; it should be mentioned that participation remained at considerably low levels.
Distrust in NGOs is high (55%)
The ratio of those who don’t trust CSOs is quite high (55%). The reasons for this have to do with the issue of transparency as 41% say this is the reason for their distrust in CSOs, followed by those who say CSOs have excessive entanglement with politics (40%) and CSOs exploit religious beliefs (40%).
It is understood that the ongoing discussions in the Turkish media on the use of CSO resources for partisan objectives and political crises related to the activities of FETO (Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization) loom quite large in public consciousness and affect the perceptions and attitudes toward CSOs. It is of importance that particularly the organisations working in the area of politics act more delicately with an emphasis on transparency.
Although not at the level of the aforementioned, 29% state that another cause for distrust arises in the context of the perception that CSOs serve the benefits of foreign countries.
The civil society field of activity deemed to be the most valuable is care for the elderly and support for people with disabilities.
51% state that they think the most valuable activities of CSOs are care for the elderly (51%) and support for people with disabilities (51%). These two fields are followed by education (49%). Empowerment of women and assistance to economically vulnerable individuals are the two other areas that Turkish society places great value (47%).
Refugee programmes, which have become one of the key activity fields for many CSOs with the worsening of the Syrian refugee crisis, received lower ratings in terms of value; only around 33% rated such activities to be “highly valuable”.
More in-depth studies on how to strengthen the civil society participation is needed
Civil society participation is one of the most important conditions for the improvement of quality of life in a country. Individuals communicate their opinions on social topics, particularly on topics that concern their own lives, to the policy-makers via CSOs among other ways. Likewise, policy-makers can only arrive at accurate decisions to the extent that they are able to get correct feedback from CSOs. Development of this mutual relationship also increases social well-being and cohesion.
INGEV TAM will follow up with more studies towards identifying the action routes that will strengthen civil society participation and increase its value to society. We will continue providing support to policy-makers and CSOs in order to help them implement more effective strategies.