“Evet” or “Yes” has emerged as the victorious camp in the last night’s vote count of the Turkish referendum, which has guaranteed dominating powers to the incumbent President of Turkey, Recep Tayip Erdogan. The result heralds a radical change to Turkish government policies in the recent history of the Turkish landscape. The “Yes” campaign won 51.3 percent of the vote against 48.7 percent for “No”, the election commission said in figures as quoted by state news agency Anadolu, in a count based on 99 percent of the ballot boxes.


The country’s political system has already undergone significant economic, social, and political changes since the Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish acronym AKP) swept to power in 2002. Now with the win of “Yes” in the referendum, which Mr. Erdogan’s party rallied hard to win have strained ties with several European countries and endangering Turkey’s entry to EU. As a result President Erdogan will be eligible to remain in power until 2029.

His previous terms in office (2003-2014) will not count for the two year term of Presidency. Erdogan would also be able to indefinitely extend the current state of emergency that was put into effect following the failed putsch against him in July 2016. According to current law, as the President Erdogan had to resign from his party to assume a neutral political stance. However, after the referendum, he can return to AKP.

The proposed changes will grant the president with varied and wide-ranging powers to issue binding decrees with the force of law. Although, these will be subject to review by the judiciary of Turkey, the President himself will appoint most of the judiciary. The new Presidential system would dispense with the office of prime minister and centralise the entire executive bureaucracy under the President, giving Erdogan the direct power to appoint ministers.

The result sharply points out the deep division within Turkish heartland about the upcoming reforms. More remarkably, all the three major cities of Turkey are showing lead for “No” according to the vote counts. This includes Erdogan’s base of Istanbul. Reports of protest against Erdogan from Istanbul have also emerged lately.

Turkey’s two main opposition parties said they would challenge the results after alleged violations. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said that whatever the final results are, it would challenge two-thirds of the vote, saying: “There is an indication of a 3-4% point manipulation of the vote.” The deputy head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Erdal Aksunger, said it could appeal up to 60 percent of the vote.

The decisive referendum took place under a state of emergency that has seen 47,000 people arrested in an unprecedented crackdown after the failed coup of July last year.

As a significant number of parties are against the radical reforms in the government of Turkey, the country remains deeply divided and heavily polarized. An authoritarian regime will pave way for a strong fist over dissent, rather than reconciliation. Erdogan nevertheless is going to emerge with great power since the time of Turkey’s founder Mustapha Kemal Pasha Ataturk, and Turkey will advance towards a one-man rule. This will endanger the voice of opposition political parties in the embattled democracy, which might push the world’s 18th largest economy to civil unrest.

References and Further readings: