Hope in vain after referendum results
The referendum results provided hope, but for nothing! Despite all the political pressure, the close race in the votes represented a great success in the name of democratic dissent, but it was a success in vain! The high score of the “no” votes in spite of all the odds feels good, but only as good as the last breath before death.
From the beginning, I thought that even if the “no” vote had won, the ruling party would not have accepted defeat but would have repeated the poll using any excuse until it got what it wanted, as happened after the June 7, 2015, elections. Besides, even if the “no” vote had won with a slight majority and the ruling party complied with the results, there would still have been the problem of legitimacy since a regime change, or the refusal thereof, cannot be decided by a simple majority of votes. Moreover, the election was held under emergency rule, which has produced controversial and harsh measures against all manners of dissent. More than anything else, those were the real problems with the referendum.
Nevertheless, I do not think that this is the end of the story for Turkey and that the process of regime change has begun and nothing can hinder its way. As if such a prospect is not scary enough, I am afraid something worse may happen, since there is a deep division in Turkey concerning regime change, and it is the most important political and social problem. The real issue is that such gigantic regime changes are difficult to achieve without real democratic discussion under democratic rules, rather than emergency rule, as they require broad consensus among different segments of society rather than a simple majority. As for Turkey, there is no consensus on almost anything concerning major issues, let alone regime change. As for the establishment of a new regime called “The President of the Republic System,” the division is even more deep and troublesome.
Now we have half of Turkey against the regime change, but those who are fiercely against the proposed new constitution have no democratic means to affect matters, since the referendum is regarded as the final game which has been won by the governing party. The half of Turkey who supported the change have all the means to impose it, whereas others have nothing to do anymore, since the game is assumed to be over as the president suggested recently with reference to a Turkish saying, “Atı alan Üsküdar’ı geçti,” roughly translated as the early bird gets the worm.
Under the circumstances, the ruling party’s determination to impose a new constitution and system with the approval of 51 percent not only reflects a majoritarian/authoritarian understanding of politics, but also poses a threat to peace and stability in the country since it will mean enforcing a new total regime on half of Turkey by the other half. It simply is not sustainable. Finally, the rumors about election fraud and the call for a rerun of the referendum is not a solution to Turkey’s political problem. Nonetheless, it seems too late for a more comprehensive and sane political solution.