Referendum in Turkey 2017 Prospects and the Post-Referendum Foreign Policy By -ABDUR RAHMAN FUAD


Turkey has passed a historic event on 16th April with 51.41% Yes votes for a new constitution over on 18 clauses as mainly the President will take the power. Over all Turkey finally crossed the Yes margin by ordinary citizens giving to the vote through the changing of Turkey’s government system for the constitution in democratic means. The change of this constitution removed the 1983’s Junta constitution as they were drafted in before. It’s a first step in the Republics history; for Turkey’s democracy where the absence of any military law and their intervene in the civil politics will not be seen. In a changing form, three articles will be changed in immediately after the finalization of this referendum result as the appointment of HSK (Supreme Electoral Council) members, the abolition of the military prosecution and last is the President to join in his own party (this one has completed on May 2).
As we can see from the Turkey’s political history that proved the 1950s Turkey’s transition into the multi-party democracy from the leftist and Kamalist one party’s rule as first Adnan Menderes who has elected as a prime minister from the out of the Kamalist existence. He took successful steps and to strengthen democratic institution and promote to the economic growth after one party rules when people in the pressure to evacuate this regimes for a new and to take a new government. Like as he, another is Turgut Ozal who was the prime minister of Turkey’s 1980s and conducted the government in same process. These persons were executed from their chairs by military actions as peoples elected to them by following democratic rules.
In that time, the military junta overthrown Turkey’s democratically elected government, severed the presidency’s ties with party politics and introduced a deeply flawed parliamentary system intended to produce weak coalition governments. This institutional arrangement ensured that elected officials would remain less powerful than the military guardianship regime which could dictate policy, force governments to step down or overthrow them at will.
Finally, successive AK Party (Justice and Development Party) governments, since 2003, were able to take the country to the next level mainly due to political stability. Different times without these, many conspiracies, military coups and also in civil coups on behalf of the militaries held in civil democracy. But not anyone see the successful. And last, we have seen in 15th July 2016, a group of military wanted to a bloody coup attempt. From all three cases and other incidents that suffered the Turkish people in their own democracy. In a stable democracy under the Erdogan, country sometimes cannot take up some possible steps for the 1983s-military constitution and then they have understood and believed on it that a chance for changing military constitution only can prevent the military intervention from their civil politics.
At now, to discuss and evaluation on recent referendum that held in last April; any events that occurred against the AK party’s popularity? Or have created any plus/minus events in popularity fields?

1. General discussion
A fighting result had been splitting according to educational and urbanization levels as No supports to them by the depending on to this argue that big cities and industrial areas with educated people and their western lifestyles tensed into against the Yes campaign as exceptional is different. From another perspective, the rural areas people and normal background people voted in favour of Yes as this have been followed since the establishment of AK party’s.
As an alliance, AK party, MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) and BBP (Great Union Party- this one only for naming) jointly worked for Yes Campaign. In the alliance, in first stage MHP’s support to AK party (for the account of AK party’s unavailable seats in the parliament to pass the bill) whereas CHP (Republicans Peoples Party) opposed-  for the referendum bills in the parliament and therefore go to the peoples to vote, should not be forget. Otherwise this was an impossible task as a bill both in parliament and to go to the people against the CHP. But problems in here that why their little supports as we seen in the referendum day where the expectation was in nearby 60 percent?
The most striking conclusion is that the MHP leaderships backing failed to translate into support from the party grassroots. In one MHP stronghold, the province of Osmaniye, the hometown of the party’s chairman Devlet Bahceli, 57 percent of voters supported the constitutional changes. However, in the Nov. 1, 2015 elections, parties supporting the changes received 81 percent of the votes. While it is true that the MHP’s lack of intra-party discipline is one of the reasons behind the results, it should also be noted that the full national potential of the party is around 12 percent and consequently should not be described as the sole cause of the outcome. (Daily Sabah: 23.04.2017) Adding that, before the referendum, the party’s workers divided into three groups as one part is support the Yes campaign another is in doubt and lest is direct reflects in No votes.
In the Turkish political life such as like Menderes, Ozal, and Demirel’s (All are the ex-Prime ministers who were executed by militaries from the powers) fates and their dreams also works in behind of the referendum where Erdogan has an important position in terms of right policies that have gained from the ex- political tradition. With the attitude that the Turkish people showed significant systematic changes by depends on the effects of last 15th July bloody coup and some initiative has shown the confidence of Erdogan.
From another side, during the pro-referendum period, K?l?cdaroglu’s (President of the CHP) political stance against the Yes, moderate policy and appealed to every segment of the society and express of political view against the referendum results and it’s impacts on internal politics that’s why they were aimed at protecting rather than the political choice. In terms of the referendum in April, especially in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, the high number of No votes in their cities; Some one’s suggests that in the coming years they are candidates for interesting results, especially in terms of local elections.

2. Kurdish area by supporting Yes votes
Important development was that the “yes” campaign received more support in predominantly Kurdish parts of Turkey than originally anticipated. The more causes the risk and resilience of the conflict period to resume more intensely and widespread than in the past, Possible articulation of rising Kurdish Islam, the evaluation of Islamic unity-integrity as a remedy against the destruction of the state-PKK oriented mutual nationalist policies an example of Huda-Par’s ascension in this context, the AKP’s traditional and social assistance policy that addressed the regional intensive poverty are main points to accelerating the votes.
According to unofficial results, 50.8 percent of voters supported the constitutional reform in Mu?, where the AK Party had received only 24.8 percent in the 2015 parliamentary elections. In Diyarbakir, Siirt, Van and Mardin, a similar change could be observed. Among other things, this points to the Kurdish voters’ rejection of the PKK terrorism and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) politics of whitewashing it. (Ibrahim Kalin, Daily Sabah: 19.04.2017)
In Hakkari, a (Kurdish nationalist) Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) stronghold, the AK Party received only 8 percent of the vote on June 7 and 12 percent on Nov. 1, while the “yes” vote reached 32 percent in the referendum. Similarly, in ??rnak, where the AK Party got 16 percent of the vote on June 7, the “yes” vote came to be 42 percent. It is calculated that the overall increase in votes across the region totalled nearly 1 million. Besides, it occurred against the backdrop of severe clashes with the PKK and under the state of emergency. In other words, the Kurds still had qualms in voting on a system that treated them unjustly for long and led to human rights violations. (Daily Sabah: 19.04.2017)

3. No votes win in the alliance citadel
MHP alliance with the AK Party in Yes campaign failed it’s to protect their citadels for Yes votes. But the votes crossed with a little percent that cannot be say that the popularity especially for the AK party have not decreased. Because a referendum cannot read for a groups popularity then the general election. After that AK party, anyhow realize the referendum results that’s went in their side by nearly 51.5 %. In other words, from the 85% voter’s attendance in the vote centres, 51.41% Yes votes not only for AKP’s and MHP’s also votes for other parties. As same as 48.59% No votes not only for CHP and HDP (Peoples Democratic Party)’s, also for other parties too.
The three largest Ankara, Istanbul and the Izmir as CHP background cities and other metropolitan city like as Antalya, Eskisehir and Mugla (CHP), Diyarbakir(Pro-Kurdish), Adana (MHP), Mersin and Denizli these were failed to read clear picture on the extent of AK party’s supports. These cities voted to AK party in local and general election. But in this time also in basement cities (Konya, Bursa, Istanbul, Ankara) failed to rightly votes than the before elections (Nov. 1st, 2015 election). As votes across the nation indicate, the parties for reform lost support even in places where the “Yes” vote dominated. The AKP Should be realize this results and take to strong steps in local area to prepare for the 2019 election.
Therefore, it seems that MHP cannot persuaded their supports and largely included in “No” votes. Adding that, some politician of the AK party says that the votes of MHP not crossed as their aspect. Nevertheless, alliance brought gains only in Central Anatolia with a meagre 2.5 percent, causing a 10 percent loss in the Marmara region (Istanbul province) and a 15 percent loss in the Mediterranean region (Antalya Province).
4. Why ‘No’ votes in lost?
For the CHP, HDP and MHP rebels, the “No” campaign’s ability to win 48.6 percent of the vote could be a source of hope for the future. But they would have to work out a formula to keep the ideologically diverse components of this bloc intact. If they want to succeed, they will need to reconcile the HDP’s Kurdish nationalism with the CHP base and the MHP rebels.
Another comparative issue of No results that the European intervention as an undemocratic behaviour in the post-referendum. Like as Germany, Netherlands, Austria and the Norway’s banned on a pro-referendum rally for Turkish citizens and also banned on publicity or contact with the Turkish officials with their citizen for healthy and increasing ‘Yes’ votes in abroad. Also, HDP connected organization PKK that’s an unlawful and a terrorist organization in the eyes of Turkey and also for the Europe and the US; had managed more open rally against the Yes campaign by the patronizing those country that I have stated in the above. These unlawful and undemocratic behaviours be overlooked in the referendum by the Turkish people’s giving to vote in the abroad. 59.1 % Yes votes and 40.9% No votes results in abroad, kept the key contribution to pass and throw the referendum in Yes citadel.

What’s the Post- referendum foreign policy of Turkey?
At the same time, constitutional reform at home will translate into a new foreign policy offensive. In May, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s travel to India, Russia, China and the United States and attend a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium.
From the US perspective, Erdogan want to jointly work with the Donald Trump as some more key issues that’s are the Fetullah Gulen’s backed into the Turkey’s hand as a mastermind of 15th July coup attempt, PYD/YPG issues in Syria and the Iraq and also to obstacle the Iran’s emergence in the Middle East for intervention in a sovereign country that caused a headache for the Middle east countries also for the Turkey (this one is less priority). These are priority issues with the Trump administration. Mostly PYD/YPG issue is more important to establish a new relation.
From the Europe’s perspective, Trump and Putin are exceptional for congratulating to Erdogan but European leaders was in silence to felicitate the Erdogan over the triumph of referendum. As anti-Erdoganism fuel in western media and its emergence in the Europe. As the EU’s support for the PKK and the FETO fuels nationalist fervour, the inclusion of several pro-PKK politicians in the OSCE observer mission raised questions about their impartiality. Over the next few months, President Erdogan suggested, the Turks could put to a vote to the reinstitution of the death penalty and aborting EU membership talks. And after passed the referendum, EU want to starts again to negotiate with the Turkey after the referendum as they said before the negotiating process was closed. Maybe they want to round table speaks as over on more issues as about the membership talks one of them on some conditions. Turkey understood all of their hypocrisy. Ok wait for NATO summit.
From the Asia perspective, Erdogan’s visit to India, Pakistan, China and the Russia, wants to increasing bilateral relation both economically and politically and also to join in the One-Way economic corridor after the western hypocrisy with him about the pre-referendum issues and about the EU’s membership.
Seeking to strike a balance between Washington and Moscow in Syria, the Turks could take the initiative in the war against Daesh. However, neither the U.S. nor the Russians are unlikely to make any firm commitments regarding the YPG anytime soon. Under the circumstances, Turkey must be prepared to launch new military operations in Syria to show that it means business.

When the Turkish people go to the polls in 2019, they will elect a new president and a new parliament both of which will be responsible to the people directly. The next president, who will preside over the executive branch, will have to secure the support of the majority of voters in order to receive a mandate to govern. The next parliament will have sweeping powers against the president such as enacting laws, which will be binding for the executive branch, and investigating and even impeaching the sitting president. With checks and balances in place, both the president and the parliament will have to work together for a policy of consensus on key issues.

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