AKP to target women, urban Kurds, urban MHP voters in final referendum campaigning
Nuray Babacan – ANKARA
AFP photoThe ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will focus on winning “yes” votes from women, city-based Kurds and city-based Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voters in the final weeks of campaigning for the referendum on shifting Turkey to an executive presidential system.
The party is finalizing its strategy for the last two weeks of campaigning and decided to target voters from these three undecided and hesitant groups, amid concern that polls still show a tight race between “yes” and “no” voters ahead of the April 16 referendum.
The AKP will reportedly focus on discourse aiming to ease concerns about pressure on women’s lifestyles, based on polling that the rate of women planning to vote no in Istanbul is high.
Analyses also showed that Kurds and traditional MHP voters living in cities do not support the constitutional changes at the level that the AKP wants to see. As a result, Kurdish-origin lawmakers and MPs and ministers who have good relations with the MHP will be assigned to perform “regional duties” in line with persuasion efforts.
Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 to decide whether to change the government system into an executive presidency with vastly enhanced powers for the president or to protect the current parliamentary system.
The “yes” vote is endorsed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the AKP and the leadership of the MHP, while the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are campaigning for a “no” vote.
The government is concerned that there may be “secret no voters” among people who tell pollsters that they plan to vote “yes,” so the AKP plans to carry out its campaigning based on this calculation. Party members will also focus on individuals who do not express any views regarding the referendum.
According to regional evaluations, some parallels can be seen with the results of the Nov. 1, 2015 general election, though it is thought that even in regions where “yes” votes prevail enthusiasm is down compared to that election.
The AKP, the CHP, the HDP and the MHP obtained 317, 134, 59 and 40 seats respectively in the November 2015 snap election.
Meanwhile, the government has also reportedly conducted analyses regarding the effect of recent tension between Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands. Accordingly, the ratio of Turkish citizens abroad who said the tension inclined them to vote “yes” was around the same as those who said it inclined them to vote “no.”
Tension rose after Germany and the Netherlands barred Turkish ministers from attending a number of campaign rallies.