Erdoğan's winning streak continues as Turkey votes for change

Published 17.04.2017 01:51

After an exciting campaign season, the Turkish electorate has made its decision clear. Both sides, those for and against the constitutional changes that will pave the way to a presidential system, freely argued their case to the public, with urban centers across the country transformed into a campaign bases by party activists. No matter the result, it is Turkey, as a democratic country, that emerges as the victor. The people enjoyed the right to think and vote to their heart's content.

To the No campaign's effective use of social media, billboards and TV advertisements, the "yes" campaign responded with huge rallies at public squares across the nation. While those against the reforms did not hold too many rallies, those they did were quite impressive. They to a large extent preferred to rally their supporters by exploiting the full potential of social media.

During the campaign season, it was not strange for one to be stopped while walking down the street by two youngsters, with one propagating the virtues of a "yes" vote while the other argued for just the opposite. This largely peaceful referendum season was a carnival of democracy, and crowned by a remarkably high participation rate yesterday.

Neither side took a break until the very last moment, after which the electorate went to the ballot box to vote to shape the future of the country. Yesterday, millions of Turkish citizens practiced their democratic rights in a peaceful atmosphere in a free and fair way and the results were promptly announced.

This passionate race concluded with the majority of the electorate voting yes for change and reform. The public voted to replace the decrepit system that has done Turkey significant disservice in the past, and to choose a presidential system over the parliamentary one.

The affirmative vote for the changes should also be seen as a vote of confidence for the continued leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who still commands the trust of the nation despite everything his political opponents throw at him.

Political opposition in Turkey carved another notch in its history of defeats. After yesterday, it has once again become apparent that the opposition is in desperate need for a change of mentality and leadership.

One of the many benefits of the new system will be the chance it affords the opposition to cast off the dead weight that has been bringing it down for years. Leaders of opposition have been immune to the consequences of defeat for too long. With the new system, a political leader who fails to win in election will need to depart and allow those with more effective ability to take over. No longer will we see defeat rewarded. Party supporters, especially the long-suffering Republican People's Party (CHP) loyalists, will push failed leaders out. This democratic instinct should begin immediately and Turkey should at long last have the strong opposition it needs.

Erdoğan and his supporters are celebrating another democratic victory. The president has emerged even stronger from last year's failed military coup by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Yesterday's results also demonstrated the broad public support for the action taken by Erdoğan against the coup plotters since July 15 last year.

Another impetus that mobilized the supporters of reforms was the demonstrably undemocratic interference by European politicians and their media proxies. Their blatantly biased actions resulted in a huge backlash.

Supporters of reform owe Europe gratitude for its ill-advised meddling in Turkey's democratic process. Voting results from Turkish expats in Europe clearly demonstrate how furious they were to the wide-spread anti-government and anti-Turkey campaigning they witnessed across the continent.

The Turkish electorate has said yes to a more effective system of government, faster economic growth and political stability.

Yesterday's referendum once again confirmed Turkey's democratic maturity. Another fact the referendum confirmed was the electorate's support for Erdoğan's continued leadership. Results clearly demonstrate that the current Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leadership has lost the trust of their party supporters, who overwhelmingly voted against the reforms no matter what their leaders said.

MHP's support for the reforms was not reflected in yesterday's result because their supporters abandoned the leadership. Votes for the "yes" campaign should be seen as an endorsement of Erdoğan and his leadership. His supporters have gathered behind his lead and have trusted his arguments for change, and it appears Kurdish support from the country's east for Erdoğan has considerably increased.

While nationalists turned their backs on change, a significant number of Kurds backed a new future.

European politicians and media can also read one particular message from the vote yesterday: It is advisable for Europeans to mind their own business rather than fall victim to their anti-Erdoğan bias. There is a functioning democracy in Turkey and Erdoğan has the backing of a significant majority of Turks.

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