Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has won a vote for a revised Constitution expanding his powers, but only by a narrow margin.
“Evet” (Yes) took 51.4% and “hayir” (No) 48.6%. More than 58 million votes were cast in a turnout of more than 84%.
Amid the tight result, some opposition parties questioned whether there had been manipulation to ensure the triumph for an executive Presidential system to replace the parliamentary approach. Critics also noted that — with the State controlling much of the media and courts, as well as detaining journalists and activists — the Yes campaign had a significant advantage.
Turkey’s cities voted No — Ankara and Istanbul by narrow margins, and Izmir by more than 2 to 1. However, the Yes campaign triumphed in many rural areas, especially along the Black Sea, and among Turkish citizens living abroad.
Most voters affiliated the right-wing nationalist MHP, which backed Yes, supported the revised Constitution; however, there were pockets of resistance. Similarly, while the largely-Kurdish southeast voted No, the Yes campaign was able to take about 1/3 of the ballots.
Erdoğan said, “With the people, we have realised the most important reform in our history.” He warned opponents not to protest the result, “[They] shouldn’t try, it will be in vain.”
The vice-chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said they would contest 37% of the votes that were counted.
Well before Sunday’s vote, Erdoğan and the ruling AKP had extended their power in practice, if not in law. Purges throughout and beyond the State, especially after a failed coup in July 2016, had detained thousands of military and civil officials, judges, journalists, and activists. Tens of thousands were purged from the civil service, academia, and other sectors. Some broadcasters and newspapers were shut down and others taken over by the State, with an accompanying crackdown on websites critical of the Government.
TOP PHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his wife Emine cast their ballots on Sunday