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, President Recep Tayyip 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. Our citizens living abroad are also an important part of this victory,” Erdoğan told a press conference at the Huber Palace in Istanbul, noting that around 25 million “yes” votes were cast according to unofficial results.
Erdoğan also called the public decision to approve the new governance system a historic one and thanked all citizens for their support in supporting his push to create a presidential post with greatly enhanced powers.
“Today, Turkey gave a historic decision on its governance system which has been an immemorial matter of debate for 200 years,” Erdoğan said, acknowledging all citizens who headed to the polls regardless of the color of their votes.
“As I expressed while casting my vote today, this constitutional amendment is not an ordinary change. This is very different and very meaningful,” he said.
“It is the first time that we are changing the governance system with the hand of civilian politics for the first time completely. This is very important in that sense,” Erdoğan added.
The president also said the country was on its way to realizing the most important governance reform in its history.
“As has always been the case, in this referendum it has been easy to defend what exists and hard to defend the change. Thank God we have achieved a difficult thing and we are realizing the most important governance reform in our history with the courtesy of our nation,” he said.
The president also stressed that votes cast particularly from the eastern and southeastern provinces had a separate significance, noting that all provinces in the southeastern had witnessed an increase of between 10 and 20 percent.
Separately, addressing a celebrating the referendum result in front of the palace, Erdoğan said he would immediately discuss the issue of reinstating capital punishment with the prime minister and the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
“I will immediately discuss this issue with Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Bahçeli. I will say ‘I have always encountered this in the field.’ Mr. Bahçeli already said, ‘I will support it’ and Mr. Yıldırım likewise. But Kılıçdaroğlu also said he would also support it. If he really supports it and it comes to me, I will approve it. Otherwise what will we do? We will have another referendum for that too,” Erdoğan said.