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17 Apr 2017

Turkish Referendum: Erdogan wins amidst opposition challenge

Turkish Referendum: Erdogan solidifies position at the helm

Unofficial results declared on Sunday night indicated the passage of the Turkish Referendum, securing 1.25 million votes more than the "no" vote.

The passage was confirmed by Sadi Guven, head of Turkey's top electoral body (YSK).

With merely around 60,000 votes left to be counted, the opposition parties challenged the results on account of irregularities in counting.

Let us see what's happening in Turkey!

In context

Turkish Referendum: Erdogan solidifies position at the helm


What changes do the amendments make?

The referendum consisting of 18 constitutional amendments would swap Turkey's government from parliamentary to presidential.

Increasing the number of MPs from 550 to 600, it renders the President as both head of state and government, granting him unchecked powers including declaring emergency and choosing judges.

President Erdogan's supporters argue that the amendments are essential to "get rid of the system holding back Turkey's progress".

The Turkish coup

Turkey has been in chaos since a failed coup attempt in July 2016, launched by a faction of the army against President Erdogan and the ruling alliance. A theory suggests that the coup was staged by Erdogan to gain support to move the referendum.

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How did it all begin?

The Turkish Referendum, proposing to grant sweeping powers to the President, was launched in December 2016.

Supporters argue that it is necessary for a strong and stable Turkey. Critics argue that it concentrates too much power with the President, negating separation of powers.

The Turkish referendum campaign has strained Turkey-EU relations with Europe disapproving strongly of the referendum and Turkey accusing Europe of fascism.

A victory for the Yes vote

The voting day saw a high turnout of 85%, with the "Yes" campaign securing 1.25 million votes, with 60,000 votes left to be counted. The "no" campaign secured close to 48.59% of votes. Big cities including Istanbul and Ankara voted "no".

What does the opposition say?


What does the opposition say?

Parties including CHP and the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), have not conceded to the result.

They point to impropriety, demanding recount of about 61% votes. They have further accused Anadlou, Turkish news agency, of publishing inaccurate results.

CHP Deputy leader Erdal Aksunger noted, " many illegal activities were being carried out for the yes campaign".

The Turkish Parliament

President Erdogan's Justice and Democratic Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) which support the 'yes' campaign occupy 356/550 seats in the Parliament. The Republican People's Party (CHP), the biggest opposition party holds 133 seats. The parties are deeply polarized over the referendum.


What could happen now?

A weakened legislature and politicized judiciary could facilitate authoritarian rule in Turkey.

Turkey under Erdogan has seen religious Turks become stronger, along with a booming middle class. A centralized, stable Turkey could get stronger under Erdogan.

Rising tensions with Europe would likely worsen, as a newly powerful Erdogan could use his leverage in the Syrian refugee crisis to keep Europe on its toes.

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