How divided is Turkey after the referendum?

After President Erdoğan's narrow victory in the referendum on the introduction of a presidential system people are still protesting against electoral fraud in several Turkish cities. Opposition parties called last week for the vote to be annulled but the electoral commission rejected the demand. The discontented must now close ranks and forge a strong opposition, commentators urge.

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T24 (TR) /

Opposition must get organised

The close result means Erdoğan is the real loser, but that alone won't be enough, warns columnist Hasan Cemal on web platform T24:

“From a democratic perspective it is a hopeful sign that different sections of society, different lines of the political spectrum, came together to produce a 49 percent No. … But I'll stop there. There is still a lot to be done if we want to ensure that Erdoğan is truly defeated. If the No had won out, the same would apply; there would still be a lot do. Those who said no to Erdoğan, no to a one-man-regime, now face a critical phase in democracy. The most important and by no means easy task in this phase is to organise the 49 percent. ... If they don't manage to do this now, this democratic block won't be able to avoid further disappointments in the [presidential] election in 2019.”

Evrensel (TR) /

Hardly any doubt about fraud

The belief that fraud was committed in the referendum is shared by broad swathes of the population, Evrensel notes:

“While citizens who criticise irregularities in the referendum and call for it to be cancelled continue to make their anger heard on the streets, many politicians and journalists likewise maintain that the vote should be annulled. What's more, reports 'from the street' show that in discussions at work, in cafés and in public places people who voted Yes can't defend the uneven playing field during the campaign or the victory of the Yes camp. As a result they shy away from even trying. This referendum isn't just regrettable for the No-voters: it also burdens the consciences of a large number of people who voted Yes.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Erdoğan knows how to rally his voters

After the close election result President Erdoğan is not about to adopt a conciliatory tone, Hürriyet Daily News is convinced:

“He is not concerned about being unifying. The only aim he has is to keep those who voted for his party together, to prevent the shifts. And we can say that he has done so successfully till this day. Only once, in this referendum, he was not successful to influence a crowd that normally votes for his party in the elections. But he knows well that when it comes to the elections, he would get what he wants if he can make those who vote for his party feel under threat. When it comes to threats; there are so many of them. He can create an army of enemies, starting from the European Union, going as far as an unidentified 'upper mind,' as well as those who support the tutelage system, even though no one knows who they actually are.”

Kansan Uutiset (FI) /

The opposition is alive and kicking

The Turkish opposition will not give in to the coming repression, Kansan Uutiset predicts:

“With regard to democracy, human rights and the freedom of opinion, Turkey's future looks grim. Even before the referendum civil servants were persecuted and laid off en masse, journalists and members of parliament from the pro-Kurdish HDP were arrested, newspapers were closed and the media was turned into the mouthpiece of the president. Erdoğan's measures will now become even harsher and divide the Turkish population all the more. The situation of the Kurds could become even more unbearable. Their rights have been flagrantly violated. ... Nevertheless the opposition in the cities will no doubt refuse to watch passively as Turkey slides into autarchy.”

Akşam (TR) /

Only losers complain about election fraud

The accusations of election fraud are just trifling complaints by the losers, according to the pro-government daily Akşam:

“The realization of elections and referendums in Turkey is becoming more open, transparent and in accordance with the rules with each vote that takes place. Even if after the votes there are often complaints, they are limited to isolated cases that express the psychology of the losing parties or the losing candidate and only represent small problems that don't affect the result. So from this point of view alone it is a success that the referendum of April 14 with its high voter turnout of 85 percent was carried out without any relevant incidents.”

Oda TV (TR) /

Opposition weakening its own position

By acting with such restraint regarding the suspected electoral fraud the leader of the social-democratic-Kemalist CHP, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has wasted a major opportunity, the left-wing nationalist web portal OdaTV comments:

“As the difficult election night, which was proving to be a neck-and-neck percentage point race, drew to an end, irregularities in the election process were suddenly on the agenda once more. A wave of protests broke out. … As the pressure on the AKP grew everyone waited excitedly for Kılıçdaroğlu's speech. Now would be the moment when the leader of the largest opposition party would face the TV broadcasters and put everyone in their place and, amidst all the darkness, adopt a patriotic, revolutionary position in accordance with international law. All Turkey sat mesmerised in front of the TV screen. And then … the mountain gave birth to a mouse! ... While the No camp tore out its hair the Yes camp was asking itself: is this what we were afraid of?”

Pravda (SK) /

The last nail in Atatürk's coffin

There can be no talk of this having been a democratic vote when hundreds of journalists and thousands of teachers, civil servants and lawyers are behind bars in Turkey, Pravda remarks:

“The opposition didn't have equal opportunities and has been criminalised for a long time. But that doesn't mean its demands for a recount of the votes is pointless. … The last nail in Atatürk's coffin needn't be a tragedy for Turkey. Proving that Erdoğan cheated could still be important for the future. … Right now no one can oppose his goal of destroying the modern Turkish state. At the same time the close result entails a moment of danger. The Turks may face a wave of reprisals and in the worst case a civil war. And all this with Europe's border on the one side and an already exploding Middle East on the other.”

The Guardian (GB) /

President must address critics' concerns

The No camp in Turkey is so large that the president cannot simply ignore its concerns, The Guardian warns:

“The two camps looked at the constitution through different lenses. For yes supporters, the failures of past sclerotic coalition governments and threats against national security were at the forefront. The no camp, on the other hand, were concerned with the separation of powers, checks and balances, and threats to democracy. What this stiff competition and close result show is that a significant portion of Turkish society is seriously concerned about the state and future of Turkish democracy. Socio-economic stability, peace and the normalisation of Turkish politics cannot be achieved unless these concerns are addressed by President Erdoğan.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Erdoğan's decline begins

Erdoğan's victory has also sealed his fate, Večernji list believes:

“Clearly today practically no one is thinking about history, which we should nevertheless always try to learn from. And history tells us: first the people are intoxicated by a leader and give him their freedom and their lives. But then when their beloved leader starts to lock them away, rob them and kill them, the people topple him with even greater passion. And in the process - of course - they die. In Turkey we're now witnessing the first half of this scenario. Erdoğan has bewitched half the nation with his magic that consists of just two words: political Islam.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

No camp trying to steal victory

The enemies of Turkey are describing the vote in favour of the presidential system as a defeat for the AKP, the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak criticises:

“We must be wary of those who are trying to depict the result of the vote as a defeat for Erdoğan and the AKP, as if the [nationalist] MHP had lost. We must be wary of those who present their defeat as a victory by clinging to new lies and cheap theories. The fact that Turkey survived such a major attack as that of July 15, that it was able to resolve its most important issue so smoothly, is a major success. Because there is hardly any other country that could have overcome such a trauma and continued to move forwards with such major steps. Don't let them steal our victory!”