A Constitutional Change: Turkey Wants to Make Changes to Outdated Laws

April 16, 2017
Kremlin.ru [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

On April 15th, the people of Turkey went to their polling stations to vote on a referendum: change the current constitution or keep it the same. The outcome? It was a narrow victory, but the people who were for the referendum won. Great! Let’s move forward, right? Well, not so fast.

Like we’ve seen with previous elections (remember Brexit, the U.S. Presidential election, and Colombia’s peace agreement?), it’s never that clear-cut. You see, those who opposed the referendum believe that it was a way for current President Tayyip Recep Erdogan to gain more power. After all, the new constitution would change their current form of government with a president, prime minister, and parliament making decisions for the country, to a more consolidated government where most of the decision-making power would fall under the president. Those who voted “No” are skeptical of the results and protests have erupted in the larger cities. Why?

1) After the polls had opened, the rules for how a ballot could be accepted changed. Authorities began to accept ballots even without an official stamp (the stamp was to prevent people from voting more than once).

2) There was more media coverage of the president and the ruling party than the opposition. Turkey has state-sponsored media or news stations that are controlled by the government. After last year’s attempted coup, many independent news organizations were shut down and journalists were jailed which ultimately led to self-censorship for fear of the government retaliating.

So those who voted, “No” are skeptical of the results and have taken to the streets to protest, requested a recount, and filed to annul the referendum.