A referendum on moving from a parliamentary to a presidential form of government took place in Turkey on April 16. Polling stations closed at 17:00 local time (coincides with Moscow). According to preliminary data, after calculation of 97.9% of the ballots of 51.32% of the voters of Turkey supported the constitutional reform, voted against 48,68%, according to the Supreme electoral Council of the country.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the evening in a telephone conversation congratulated the Prime Minister and the leader of the Union of the nationalist movement Party to win the referendum, Reuters reported, citing sources close to the President.
The opposition declared numerous falsifications and intends to appeal the results. As stated by CNN Turk Deputy of the Republican people’s party Umit of Osdag, his party will require the electoral Commission to recount about 60% of the ballots.
To participate in the national vote were entitled 55 million out of 78.9 million Turkish citizens. The turnout in the referendum was 88,29%, cited data from the Supreme electoral Council.
In all major cities of Turkey including Ankara, Istanbul, Antalya, Izmir and Adana (excluding Bursa), more than 50% of the population voted against reforming the Constitution. In Izmir after counting 89% of votes against voted more than 70%. In Istanbul “against” vote of 51.2%, and 48% (when counting 88% of the votes). Most in the West and South of the country voted against. The victory of the reformists brought the Central and Northern region of the country, follows from the preliminary results.
The referendum passed in the state of emergency imposed after the failed military coup in July 2016. Despite increased security measures, has not done without incidents: in the South-East of Turkey, in Diyarbakir was opened shooting in which two people were killed and one was wounded. The reason for the shooting, according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, has become “the divergence in political views”.
“Bus with no brakes”
Package of 18 amendments to the Constitution the Turkish Parliament approved in January of this year. Constitutional amendments involve a significant expansion of the powers of the President. The Executive power is concentrated in the hands of the President: the post of Prime Minister will be abolished, but will appear the positions of Vice-presidents, the President will directly appoint members of the government, what the Premier is doing now. The President will also receive the right of legislative initiative, the right to dissolve Parliament, to impose and to lift the state of emergency (the latter is now the prerogative of Parliament). The reform of the Constitution also allows the President to belong to political parties. Thus, the incumbent President will continue to lead the ruling Party of justice and development, which he founded in 2001.
In accordance with the draft amendments to the Constitution, the next presidential and parliamentary elections will be held November 3, 2019. The current President erdoğan, who was appointed in 2014, will be able to participate in the election of 2019 and 2024.
The President will also be entitled to initiate disciplinary proceedings against any of the 3.5 million civil servants in Turkey, draws the attention of the head of the bar Association of Turkey Metin Feyzioglu.
Erdogan claimed that the reform of the Constitution is necessary to strengthen security in the country, especially after the failed coup in the summer of 2016. The new system, he says, will remind the French and American and bring “tranquility in turmoil”. According to Erdogan, the threat to Turkey’s national security comes from the Kurds of the country banned the Kurdistan workers ‘ party, which, according to Ankara, is a terrorist, and ISIS (banned terrorist organization).
Photo: Zuma / Global Look Press
Supporters of Erdogan are convinced that this new government will make the country more predictable and will improve the economy. “A strong government was better able to deal with crises in a timely manner to carry out structural reforms and make the investment climate more favorable by increasing predictability,” explained to CNN the need to strengthen the powers of the President, his spokesman Ibrahim Kalin. The opponents of the reform pointed to the fact that it will lead to greater authoritarianism and the persistence of political communication between the President and the ruling party would mean the end of impartiality in the work of Parliament and its interaction with the President.
According to the leader of the opposition Republican people’s party (CHP) Kemal kılıçdaroğlu, the reform of the Constitution threatens the whole country. “We put 80 million people into a bus with no brakes” — he said at a rally in Ankara against the adoption of the amendments to the Constitution.
Press Secretary of the Armenian genocide written for CNN column argues that the reforms will lead to the President unlimited power. Under the new Constitution Parliament is empowered to investigate the President, who currently enjoys complete legal immunity, except in charges of treason.
The constitutionality accept the President’s decision will follow the constitutional court. The Kalin notes that the President will not be able to obtain full control over the judges because they are appointed for 12 years, while the maximum presidential term of office cannot exceed 10 years, subject to re-election on the second row. In addition, the President can appoint only four of the 13 members of the court, the other seven are appointed by Parliament.
“The lesson for Europe”
With the beginning of the campaign in preparation for the referendum relations between Turkey and the EU have deteriorated. One reason was the prohibition by the governments of Germany and the Netherlands on the conduct of the Turkish policy of meetings among members of the Diaspora in these countries. Erdogan responded by accusing the two governments of fascism. One of the recent protests, Erdogan said: if the Turks vote for the adoption of the amendments, it will be “a lesson for Europe”. Interviewed in the midst of the diplomatic conflict between Turkey and the Netherlands, the experts do not doubt that the scandal needed to Erdogan for uniting the electorate.
After the referendum, the President of Turkey will attempt to restore relations with the West, writes The New York Times. The EU is the largest trading partner of Turkey.
Regardless of the results of the referendum, Erdogan will remain in power until 2019 and will continue to define the country’s foreign policy, experts on Russian-Turkish relations in the political analysis Center in Ankara (Ankara Policy Center) Orhan Gafarli. The development of relations between Turkey and Russia will depend on the situation in Syria and the actions of the United States, experts say. Turkey, along with Russia and Iran are the guarantors of the truce in Syria, however, unlike partners in Ankara did not condemn the missile attack on the United States air base, the Syrian air force, applied on 7 April.
Reforms will continue
President Erdogan is not going to stop changing the Constitution. At the meeting on 12 April he said that in case of victory in the referendum will submit to Parliament a draft law on introduction of the death penalty. The death sentences were not carried out in Turkey since 1984. In 2004 the death penalty at the initiative of Erdogan was canceled. The decision was taken pursuant to the plan on the entry of Turkey into the European Union. However, after the failed coup attempt in 2016 Erdogan has repeatedly said that the people demand the death penalty for those involved in the coup.