According to unofficial results, with a turnout rate over 85% and a 51.4% vote share, the Turkish people voted “yes” for the new constitution in the referendum held on Sunday April 16. With this result, the amendments to 18 articles of the current constitution were approved.
Some of the important amendments are as follows:
- Removal of the current parliamentary system and the introduction of the “Party-Affiliated Presidency” system and removal of the office of the Prime Minister.
- The President is given the title “Head of State” and is given extensive authorities, including executive authority.
- Parliamentary and Presidential elections will be held every five years instead of four.
- The age to stand for office is lowered to 18 from the current 25.
- New regulations on the structure and assignments of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors.
During the referendum process, the biggest debate was on the widespread concern over the fact that the new constitution could cause a nationwide risk of division in the future by paving the way for a federal system in Turkey. President Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım often made statements pointing out that such concerns are irrelevant and no one can attempt to dismantle the unity and integrity of the country. However, after the increased criticisms indicating that a mere verbal assurance was not enough, the articles carrying the risk of division were revised and overhauled.
One of the biggest surprises of this process was that the MHP, one of the most adamant opponents of the AKP, supported the ruling party. Thus, the new Constitution was approved by the Parliament by achieving the necessary vote majority thanks to the MHP’s support.
Since the April 16 referendum was ultimately a vote for constitutional and systemic change, it would not be an accurate assessment to dedicate the results to the ruling or the opposition party, or personally to Erdogan. On the other hand, we shouldn’t ignore some important factors that contributed to the distribution of votes in the campaign process.
For example, many voters who were indecisive or even initially determined to vote “no”, gravitated towards “yes” as a reaction to the rallying of certain circles, who are radically against the texture of Turkish society, their standards of judgment and national sensitivities, around the slogan “no”.
The most important ones among these circles, who were despised by the great majority of the Turkish population, are: A number of communist organizations, members of the PKK terrorist organization, homosexual support groups, members and the supporters of the terrorist organization FETO, a number of traitors who revealed state secrets to the media, fled abroad and still cooperate with various Western governments, some artists, journalists and writers who, at every opportunity, complain about Turkey to foreign countries and institutions.
Moreover, the persistent “no” campaigns of the mainstream media groups, think tanks and NGOs and their especially appointed writers and propagandists operating under the Western umbrella have also caused serious deviations towards “yes”, because these circles are famous for their unjust attacks, hatred and humiliation campaigns directed towards Turkey, Muslims and elected legitimate government and politicians in Turkey for years.
Assuming the role of apostle of democracy at every opportunity, as a matter of fact these circles have maintained their usual policies rather than respecting the democratic decision of the people at the end of the referendum: For example, in an article published after the referendum by Foreign Affairs, the media outlet of the Britain-driven CFR think tank of the US, it is emphasized that Turkey is headed into division by comparing the results to the darkness before the midnight.
The article titled “Analysis of Turkey” by Steven A. Cook of Foreign Policy, included the accusations that the results of the referendum closed a chapter of the modern history of Turkey, and that the Turks who voted yes, intentionally or unintentionally, damaged the Turkey that Atatürk established.
In their extensive report on referendum, the British Times claimed, “Erdogan’s victory left a divided Turkey behind”.
Martin Chulov, the Middle East correspondent of the British The Guardian, has commented on the referendum result as “Erdoğan getting backing to strengthen his autocratic grip on Turkey” in his opinion piece that he wrote in Istanbul.
Similar reports and commentaries about the referendum in Turkey even preceded the Easter celebrations in some of the Western media. The live broadcasts and the headlines of the newspapers gave immediate priority to the referendum and the results were reported concurrently.
On the other hand, the various factors that triggered an increase in no votes signaled that there are important issues that need to be considered urgently by the AKP and the Government. No votes dominated within the intellectual circles who attach great importance to modernity, art, aesthetics and quality and who are seriously disturbed by any intervention in women’s freedom in style of dress, lifestyle and behavior, as well as in the coastal regions and the big cities of the country. This suggests that the government should place more emphasis on these issues or should emphasize that it does so.
The fact that these issues are not handled as competently and that some people and sections of the ruling base are following an exact opposite attitude towards these vital issues have caused NO votes to be the majority in the regions we talked about. Even though Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister are personally paying particular attention to vital issues such as quality, modernity and the comfort and freedom of women, it is certain that the necessary emphasis should be placed on these issues and special policies should be followed in order to eliminate these concerns.
In the end, anyone who cast yes or no is still one of the precious children of this country, except for some small groups we mentioned above. The result could have been no instead of yes; in that case Turkey would have continued on its path of peace, democracy and brotherhood, as it does right now. The important thing is to never forget that respecting the results is a requirement of democracy and to never appease provocateurs who are trying to extract provocative material from both situations.
*The writer has authored more than 300 books translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He tweets @harun_yahya.