Main opposition leader calls for non-polarizing referendum campaign
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has called on all politicians to refrain from using accusatory and discriminative language during the campaign for the April 16 constitutional referendum, noting that neither result would spark a civil war in Turkey as feared by some.
“Politicians should not blame those voting ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ he told NTV late Feb. 16.
“We are going to a referendum. Of course, there will be those who will vote ‘yes’ and who will vote ‘no,’” he said, while noting that criticizing people on their choices would “create serious polarization within the society and cause provocations,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Noting that some AKP officials had attempted to scare people by suggesting that terror could escalate if the changes are not approved, Kılıçdaroğlu said the Turkish people would vote for its future and that no war will be sparked because of people’s choices.
“I never think of such a risk [of a civil war],” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s words came after a Justice and Development Party (AKP) official claimed that a civil war could be sparked in the event that the people voted against the amendments.
“If a different picture would emerge [after the referendum] that would introduce a more oppressive government, then the public reaction would be stronger. And it’s right to see such a reaction. But deeming this a civil war or talking about a civil war is not right. Politics should not be based on fear,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Ozan Erdem, the AKP’s head of organization of Manisa, had to resign upon the instructions of the party leadership after discussing the possibility of war. Kılıçdaroğlu welcomed the action taken by the AKP, saying: “This was a grave statement. But what pleased me was the reaction shown by the Justice and Development Party officials in demanding the resignation of this person.”
Kılıçdaroğlu also said the AKP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance was not able to explain to people why they should endorse the charter changes while the CHP was very clear in making its case to the public. According to some public opinion surveys, “no” votes are slightly ahead, he said, while noting that the number of undecided voters was still high.
The CHP leader noted his expectation that the MHP’s grassroots would vote against the changes because of its nationalist sensitivities.
Raqqa operation would be a mistake
Touching on whether Turkey should continue its military offensive in Syria toward Raqqa, the CHP leader urged the government not to go further south after capturing al-Bab from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“Should the Turkish army go the Raqqa or no? Let’s put it to a referendum. This is a vital issue. These are our children who will be martyred,” he said. “If they want it very much, they would be better sending their children.”