What Erdogan’s narrow referendum victory means for Turkey

On Sunday evening in Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim stood on the balcony at the headquarters of his Justice and Development Party, or AKP, associate degreed hailed an election triumph that may place him out of employment. The “Yes” camp in Turkey’s vote, junction rectifier by Yildirim’s boss, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, looked as if it would win a slender triumph over the “No” vote, getting about 51 percent of the vote. Turks approved constitutional amendments that would scrap the country’s parliamentary system, including the office of the prime minister, in favor of a presidency with expanded powers.
“There is no loser in this referendum, but only one winner: Turkey and its noble Turkish people,” said Yildirim.
But the tiny margin of victory and the howls of protests from the opposition tell a different story. Two main opposition parties refused to concede defeat, demanding a recount after serious reports of voter fraud emerged. Despite the many flaws in Turkey’s democracy, its recent elections have been mostly fair. But that wasn’t the impression on Sunday night, with the opposition pointing to reports of fraudulent ballots and the erratic behavior of the country’s election commission.
Up until today, Turkey’s opposition always thought that it lost fair and square,” said Selim Sazak, a fellow at the Delma Institute. “This, however, is a game-changer.”
Erdogan’s critics say the amendments will entrench one-man rule and establish a de facto dictatorship. His supporters argue that given Turkey’s history of coups — including a defeated attempt last July — civil strife and failed coalition politics, a stronger executive is needed. once the new system takes impact at the next elections, expected in 2019, it’ll mark the most important modification in Turkish politics since the emergence of the trendy republic once war I.
So, what now? Below we tend to gift a survey of reaction from Turkey-focused analysts. The narrowness of Erdogan’s triumph are often understood as one thing of a blow to the Turkish president, with a once-fractured opposition coalescing currently against him. On Sunday night, in neighborhoods throughout Constantinople, protesters banged on pots and pans to register their disgust with the vote. Erdogan could have claimed a win, however he cannot claim the unvarnished triumph he hoped for.
Ziya Meral, a resident fellow at the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict analysis in UK, warned of the uncertainty to come:
“Both the shut margins and controversial votes can taint Erdogan’s sense of triumph and simple handling the method to follow. This strengthens the Turkish opposition but also would mean international actors will be more vocal about asking for some of the proposed changes not to go ahead. That can be seen in the Council of Europe’s statement already asking for the independence of the judiciary to be respected. The next phase will be socially and politically intense, with protests and harsh political polemics.”
Ragip Soylu, the Washington correspondent for Turkey’s Sabah newspaper — which is decidedly pro-Erdogan — said the “Yes” vote was a reaction to years of turmoil that included the resumption of a violent Kurdish insurgency, a wave of Islamic State terror attacks and last year’s failed coup attempt:
“I think the international media have focused more on Erdogan’s personality and less on social polarization, and what Turkish people have gone through for the last four years. Considering all of these problems, crises and hardships, the majority of the voters chose stability, and a system that provides more control and powers to Turkish government that can be influential to prevent further setbacks. The new system also creates a stronger presidency that can swiftly act against the crisis.”
Howard Eissenstat, an associate professor at St. Lawrence University and a fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy, argued that the powers-that-be in Ankara should be chastened by the “no” camp’s ability to force a stunningly close result despite the full weight of the state working against them. But Erdogan may not hear the warning:
“Given the suppression of the ‘no’ campaign, the fact that much of the [pro-Kurdish] Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) leadership is in jail, and that the government’s effective control of the media ensured a massive imbalance in campaign coverage, the ‘no’ campaign did terribly well. For Erdogan, a slender win remains a win. he’s unlikely to either slow his consolidation of power or reach get into meaning ways that to the opposition. He secure a ‘yes’ vote would lead to a lot of stability and a come of economic process. i believe that neither of those things is true.”

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