What to expect after the referendum
We have waken up to a new Turkey.
The result of the referendum is “yes,” but the people gave messages that both the government and the opposition need to analyze properly.
First of all, support for the presidential system was initially around 25 to 30 percent. In that sense President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan changed the course of the flow. He received the same amount of votes he got when he was elected president.
But the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) needs to engage in some serious self-criticism.
But let me first mention the High Election Board’s (YSK) decision to deem ballots without official stamps as valid. The YSK did not have the right to overshadow the elections. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the decision made the results open to debate. The opposition will pursue this issue.
In his speech Sunday night, Erdoğan said there would be no early elections and that the government would continue until 2019. Although the AKP won the referendum, this was not a victory. The “yes” vote was not at the desired, “meaningful” level. There is talk in the party corridors that this result has created the necessity for Erdoğan to take the party leadership. “Erdoğan will make an assessment and prepare the party for the 2019 elections,” say some party members. Despite his statement, Erdoğan could opt for early elections.
The AKP could not receive the support it was expecting from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Not only did the cooperation with the MHP not create any synergy, but at times it worked against the AKP, like the statement made by MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli on the federal system three days prior to the referendum. There was no additional support from the MHP in the coastal regions for instance.
The MHP constituency did not vote for Bahçeli. I talked to Meral Akşener before the referendum. She told me that she would think about a new party after April 16. The way is open for Akşener to establish a new party after April 17.
Kılıçdaroğlu as the leader of the ‘no’ camp
When it comes to the CHP, forget about the dissidents in the party, no one, not even a whole army, can unseat Kılıçdaroğlu. As the leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were in prison, Kılıçdaroğlu assumed the leadership of the “no” camp. As the head of a party who got 25 percent of the votes, his role and share in the 49 percent of the “no” is very big.
The referendum results need to be carefully analyzed in terms of the Kurdish votes as well. The Kurds stood next to Erdoğan at a critical turning point. These results have reminded the ruling party of its historical responsibility in the solution to the problem.
There is another truth that the referendum results have shown us: a referendum that takes place in a polarized environment brings a neck-and-neck result. Let’s recall the referendum which was held after the military coup to abolish the bans on political leaders. There was also a very tight result. In this referendum, those who like Erdoğan said “yes,” those who do not like him said “no.”
The AKP also used the wrong rhetoric at the beginning of the campaign. The rhetoric will be another issue that will be evaluated by AKP cadres.