Democratic victory of the “no” camp in Turkey, claims opposition leader

“Yes” lost in three largest cities including the capital

Trump and Saudi king congratulate Erdoğan

A Journal of People report

People protest against the results of the referendum in Istanbul, Turkey April 16, 2017.People protest against the results of the referendum in Istanbul, Turkey April 16, 2017. STRINGER/REUTERS

The 24 million Turkish citizens who voted against the constitutional changes have scored a “democratic victory” even though they failed to halt the government’s project, the main opposition leader has said, warning that Turkey will be ungovernable with the constitution.

In a phone interview with the Turkish daily Hürriyet on April 17, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said, “Despite all the bureaucratic pressure of the state, despite all the state’s financial and bureaucratic resources [used by the government] and despite the ongoing state of emergency, the naysayers claimed a victory for democracy, no matter what they say.”

Hürriyet in an April 18, 2017 datelined report said:

“The ‘no’ camp scored 48.6 of the votes while the ‘yes’ side scored 51.4 percent, although the result was marked by controversy.”

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said: “Why is it a democratic victory? I will give you an example from our history. We experienced similar conditions before the voting on the September 12 constitution which was drafted by the military junta [in the early 1980s].

“This constitution was also approved [by the votes of around 92 percent]. In our process, however, half of society unconditionally protected democracy and the democratic parliamentary regime.”

The “Main opposition leader describes referendum results as ‘democratic victory’ of ‘no’ camp” headlined report said:

“The backbone of Turkey’s existing constitution was put to a vote in 1982, two years after the 1980 coup d’état, and was approved by a clear majority of society under pressure from the military regime.”

Kılıçdaroğlu said constitutions should be regarded as the main documents for social contracts, meaning a blueprint approved with the support of only half the people could not act as a common charter.

“Everyone should see that this society cannot be governed with this constitution,” the CHP leader said, calling on all political parties to create a social consensus on the constitution. “Whether represented in parliament or not, the responsibility of all parties is to turn this constitution into a text of consensus. Politics has such a responsibility and it can’t run away from this.”

Kılıçdaroğlu highlighted president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s first public statement before the referendum results were even finalized, describing them as a reflection of “hate and anger” and an inability to embrace the whole nation.

“It’s not right to say ‘It’s too late now’ even before the Supreme Election Board announced the results. Everybody has to stay within the boundaries of the law and defend the rule of law. Even this statement is a clear indication of what one-man rule will cost Turkey,” he said.

Media reports on Turkey said:

“No” votes prevailed in Turkey’s three largest cities: Istanbul, the capital Ankara and İzmir.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), repeatedly stated that “one who wins a majority in Istanbul wins all of Turkey.”

The win of “no” votes in the three largest cities including Istanbul thus suffered a shock. The ruling party, however, carried out an intense campaign in Istanbul.

While the AKP, Erdoğan and the leadership of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) campaigned for a “yes” vote, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and MHP dissidents were on the “no” side in the referendum.

Erdoğan and prime minister Binali Yıldırım addressed a huge crowd in a campaign rally in Istanbul on April 8. Both of them held four rallies each in different Istanbul districts one day before the referendum.

However, their all out effort did not yield their desired results for the “yes”, with the “no” bloc winning a narrow majority in Istanbul.

The “yes” vote in Istanbul was at 48.65 percent in the referendum while the “no” vote was at 51.35 percent.

When the results are compared with the outcome of the most recent Nov. 1, 2015 general election, in which the AKP won 48.72 percent of the vote in Istanbul and the MHP won 8.59 percent, totaling 57.31 percent, it can be seen that the “yes” bloc lost a significant portion of votes.

In Ankara, “no” votes won 51 percent in the referendum. But the combined AKP-MHP vote of 62.99 percent in the November 2015 election in the capital city. Ankara mayor Melih Gökçek predicted “yes” votes at 58 percent in the capital city, overestimating the final result by almost 10 percent.

In İzmir, a CHP stronghold, the “yes” camp suffered a major defeat. “No” votes won 68.76 percent of the votes in the referendum, corresponding to a 13.36 percent increase in the “no” bloc compared to the November 2015 election. The AKP-MHP “yes” camp was at 42.38 percent in İzmir in the last general election and therefore fell by 11.14 percentage points in the referendum.

 

Turkish foreign ministry slams observer report

Turkey slammed a recent report by international observers on the April 16 constitutional referendum, calling it “biased” and “unacceptable” on April 17.

“The initial findings in question are a reflection of a biased and prejudiced approach,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, referring to the observations made by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) monitors.

The foreign ministry said it was “unacceptable” to state that the poll fell short of international standards.

 

Referendum a victory for all in Turkey, claims Erdoğan

The April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments to shift the country’s governance system to an executive presidency marked a victory for everyone in Turkey, Erdoğan has said in his first comments on the results.

“April 16 is the victory for all Turkey with everyone who both voted ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ with the country’s 80 million population, 81 provinces and its 780,000 square kilometers of land,” Erdoğan told a press conference at the Huber Palace in Istanbul.

“Today, Turkey gave a historic decision on its governance system which has been an immemorial matter of debate for 200 years,” Erdoğan said.

“Thank God we have achieved a difficult thing,” he said.

 

Trump congratulates Erdoğan

U.S. president Donald Trump congratulated president Erdoğan on April 17 in a telephone call after his narrow victory in a constitutional referendum.

The call came a day after more than 51 percent of Turks voted in favor of 18 constitutional amendments that will, among other things, see Turkey switch from a parliamentary to an executive presidency with vastly enhanced powers for Erdoğan.

Trump’s message came in contrast to a message released by the State Department, which cited a report by international observers who had noted “irregularities on voting day and an uneven playing field during the difficult campaign period.”

In the phone call, Trump and Erdoğan agreed Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack.

The U.S. president also thanked Turkey for its support for U.S. missile strikes on the Shayrat air base in Syria on April 7.

Along with Trump, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz also extended his congratulations to Erdogan on Monday, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

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