The Recep Tayyip Erdogan camp is trying to overcome the initial shock of the “Pyrrhic victory” in Sunday’s referendum as they surely expected Yes to win more comfortably.
With 100% of the vote counted, Erdogan becomes president with extra powers with the support of 51.4 pct of Turks while No took 48.6 pct of the vote. The opposition talks about rigging and is already saying it will appeal to the Constitutional Court to cancel the election procedure.
HE LOST IN ISTANBUL, IZMIR, ANTALYA, ADANA, CANAKKALE
The shock in the Erdogan camp is huge as his Islamic Movement “stronghold” areas held since 1994 were lost. Especially defeat in Istanbul with 51.4% and in Ankara with 51.2% despite the support of the Nationalists are strong defeat messages to the Turkish president.
All cities of eastern Thrace, the coasts of the Aegean and the Mediterranean and the Southeast voted no. Yes to Erdogan came from the cities of central Turkey and the Black Sea.
Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Adana generate 65% of Turkish GDP and are cultural and educational centers of Turkey; the “no” that was heard in these cities shows that the country is divided. The “revolution of Anatolia” was the headline of Milliyet newspaper which explains how Erdogan won.
A record “no” vote came in the city of Tunceli which voted against Erdogan by 80.4 percent. The majority of people there are Alevis.
HE LOST 5 MILLION VOTERS
According to election analysts, the AKP-MHP (Nationalist Action Party) coalition lost approximately 5 million votes compared to 2015 general election results. The party took 61.4% then and garnered 51.4% of the vote this time around. Impressively enough, participation in the referendum stood at 85.32 percent. Analysts believe the main reason the coalition lost votes were conservative Kurds, some of whom were AKP voters; the coalition with the Nationalist made them opt for No. Pollsters also stress that people aged 18 to 25 also said No to Erdogan.
ERDOGAN REMEMBERED LATE LEADERS
On Monday Erdogan remained in Istanbul until late in the evening and visited the graves of former Prime Minister Turgut Ozal, Adnan Menderes and the leader of the Islamic movement, former PM Necmetin Erbakan. The Turkish President also visited the tomb of Mohammed the Conqueror and prayed in his memory. Analysts believe that with these moves Erdogan is trying to promote a center-right profile for himself that includes Islamists and Nationalists while attempting to boost the morale of his supporters.
Perhaps this is why on Monday night, upon arriving in Ankara, we told a crowd waiting for him that “the Crusaders fought us abroad and their slaves did the same on the inside”.
On Sunday night, the Turkish President spoke of the “possibility of holding a referendum on the reintroduction of capital punishment”.
On Monday evening a Security Council meeting was scheduled, chaired by Erdogan, and it was already announced that the state of emergency – which applies in Turkey since the failed coup in July 2016 – will be extended by a further 3 months.
A referendum was held in the country under the state of emergency, despite even the PM stating it was something he wished would not occur, Taha Akyol comments in Hurriyet newspaper.
THE OPPOSITION SPEAKS OF RIGGING
The leader of the Republican Party, Bulent Tezcan, spoke of rigged elections and demanded the “referendum process is cancelled”.
The increased number of invalid ballots is impressive as they shot up to 847,000 from 697,000 in November 2015.
The 20 European observers who monitored the electoral process in Turkey expressed reservations about the procedure and result of the referendum. The group of OSCE election observers that followed the referendum said in an interview the following day that the vote was below international standards, stressing that No supporters were not given equal opportunity to elaborate on their arguments.
THE TENSION WITH EUROPE BROUGHT ABOUT VICTORY FOR ERDOGAN
An important factor that led to the Erdogan victory was the votes of Turks abroad; 59.4 percent of overseas voters gave Yes an advantage. In Austria 63% opted for Yes. In France 64.8% voted Yes while in the occupied part of Cyprus No won by 54.8%.
The Yes victory brought optimism to financial markets with the Turkish lira appreciated against the US Dollar and the Euro at a rate of 2%. The Lira-Dollar exchange rate reached 3.65.
However, the referendum results show that a ghetto has been formed in Istanbul, a city of 17 million people. The district of Besiktas said No to Erdogan by 83%, Kadikoy also with 77% and Adalar 73.6%./IBNA