Turkish referendum hands President Erdogan unbridled power

Istanbul: The results of the historic referendum held in Turkey on Sunday have been declared and the Turkish people have supported President Recep Erdogan’s appeal with only a slim majority in the consensus. His strategy to bring into effect a presidential system has succeeded with 51% of votes in his favour. However, the European leaders have advised President Erdogan to be cautious considering the slim majority he received. Meanwhile, demonstrations are being carried out on a large scale in major cities of Turkey against the violations in the referendum. 

erdoganThe referendum was organized on Sunday to replace the currently existing parliamentary system with a presidential system, in line with the US‘s governing system. Along with citizens residing in Turkey, citizens of Turkish origin living outside of Turkey were also given the right to vote for this referendum. It has come to the fore that around 85 percent of citizens exercised their franchise in the elections held on Sunday. It has been found that around 2.5 crore voters from in and out of Turkey had endorsed Erdogan’s bid for a presidential republic. 

At the same time, the number of people opposed to this constitutional reform is also big where more than 2 crore voters clearly rejected his appeal. It was quite evident that Erdogan’s referendum was rejected in three major cities, Istanbul, Izmir as well as the Turkish capital Ankara. The opposition parties i.e. the ‘No’ supporters of the referendum in Turkey have taken an aggressive stand by alleging violations in the referendum and demanding a 60 percent re-count of votes. Demonstrations have begun against Erdogan in Istanbul and other cities declaring the results to be unlawful. 

The European Union has been reacting cautiously on Erdogan’s victory in the Turkish referendum. The European Commission has highlighted the slim margin of the win in the outcome and advised the Turkish government to reach a consensus for subsequent proceedings. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has claimed that the outcome is clearly indicative of polarization in the Turkish society and cautioned that the responsibility over the Turkish leadership had now increased. 

However, President Recep Erdogan has assured that the referendum win was a historic decision taken by the Turkish people. President Erdogan justified his win by stating that Turkey had crossed the biggest milestone in its history in constitutional reforms  with the help of its people. He said that on the strength of the will of the parliament and its citizens, Turkey was undergoing a very crucial change, it would be changing its governing system. At the same time, he also warned that the efforts of the people opposing the outcome will be in vain and will not make any difference. 

Due to the victory in the referendum, after the 2019 elections, the presidential system will be brought into effect and the post of Prime Minister will be abolished. The President can remain in power for two five-year ‘terms’ and enables him the right to appoint all ministers and judges. International critics claim that Erdogan will enforce a authoritarian rule on the strength of the new powers. 

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