Erdogan seeks “yes” vote as sea of followers converge in rally
MAMOSA Report — Hundreds of thousands on Saturday packed one of the biggest public spaces in Istanbul as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted a giant rally seeking votes in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul, just over a week ahead of a referendum on enhancing his powers.
Lambasting Turkey’s enemies and taking pot shots at his opponents, Erdogan said a ‘Yes’ vote in the April 16 referendum would give Turkey more stability and power.
“On April 16, do you want to say ‘Yes’ to a strong Turkey?” Erdogan asked the crowd, who waved a sea of red and white crescent moon Turkish flags.
“Do you want a great Turkey? Do you want to say ‘Yes’ to stability? Will you be there Istanbul?” he added, as the crowd roared back ‘Yes!”, reported AFP.
Erdogan arrived by helicopter to cheers at the vast open ground space in the Istanbul district of Yenikapi on the shores of the sea of Marmara.
It was here on August 7, 2016 that he held a mass rally to promote national solidarity in the wake of the failed July 15 coup blamed on the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen and clearly wanted to capture the spirit of that day.
Erdogan said that the likes of Gulen, who denies being behind the coup, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), wanted to see a ‘No’.
He said that ‘No’ vote backers also were also against his projects to transform Turkey through modern infrastructure projects such as bridges and tunnels.
“They said ‘No’ to the bridges. They say ‘No’ to a modern Turkey,” he roared, prowling around a walkway that extended from the stage like at a rock concert.
If approved, the new system will see the scrapping of the post of prime minister, the creation of vice presidents and the empowering of the president to appoint ministers.
Turkish citizens will cast vote on 18 proposed constitutional amendments that could also give President Erdogan more control over the legislative and judicial branches of government as well as the economy.
Erdogan could also see his time as leader extended to 2029.
The changes will also allow the president to be affiliated with a party, allowing Erdogan to restore his ties with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) that he co-founded and helped sweep to power in 2002.
Supporters say that the new system will create an efficient US-style structure but critics argue the lack of checks-and-balances risk handing Erdogan one man-rule.
The ‘no’ camp, spearheaded by Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), also organized its rally in Trabzon, in northeastern Turkey.
With just over a week until polling day, analysts see the referendum as tightly-contested, despite the domination of the ‘Yes’ campaign in the media.
Surprisingly, whether the April 16 vote backs the president or not, the Turkish equity market could rally, reported the Barron’s. That’s mostly because it will end a prolonged period of uncertainty about the outcome, observers say.
How likely is a yes vote for Erdogen? The government gives itself a narrow edge. Other polls put the contest in a dead heat, says Saruhan Hatipoglu, a native of Turkey who is CEO of BERI, a political-risk-analysis firm in Friday Harbor, Washington DC.
Local passions are running high. Erdogan has maintained a state of emergency since the attempted coup, has lashed out against alleged conspirators, and has railed against European leaders. Human Rights Watch last week estimated that 160 Turkish media outlets and publishers have been shuttered, 100,0000 civil servants have been dismissed or suspended, and 47,000 people await trial.
Turkish Australians cast their vote in Turkey’s referendum
Sunday night marks the end of Turkish Australians being able to cast their ballot in the April 16 referendum, with about 22,000 people expected to vote.
The Turkish consulate in Melbourne said there were around 3 million expatriate Turks in countries such as Australia, the USA, Germany and Holland, with 120 embassies and consulates worldwide — Germany has the largest population of Turkish Diaspora.
Sydney’s Turkish Consul General Melih Karalar told ABC “you never knew what would happen in a referendum, especially one that was reportedly close in Turkey.” He rejected any claims of division in the community, whether people were voting “yes” or “no”.
“The overseas vote will definitely have an impact. The people will have their say and we will see the result. People should vote regardless of their political position,” he said.
Done Yucel from Lidcombe said she was just proud to vote.
“I love Australia. I love Turkey too — I have been in Australia for 45 years.
“Turkey is the country of my birth, and very important for my family, including my grandsons.
“Voting makes me feel connected to Turkey.”