If there is any indicator that draws one’s attention away from the traditional analysis of the Turkish referendum, then it is the battle’s confirmation that Erdogan is a stubborn fighter who does not hesitate to fight a knife-edge battle. This was apparent on the day of the coup and was demonstrated by his decision to hold a referendum that no one hesitated to describe as a risk.
In the end, Erdogan succeeded in overcoming the battle, albeit by a small margin, making his record for the past 15 years ten election victories and three referendum victories.
election victories have been achieved by Erodgan in the past 15 years
Of course the figures show a divide in society, but there are those who said that decisions of this kind could pass easily. Why did the world look respectfully at Britain’s Brexit referendum, although there was only a 0.5 per cent difference in the results?
Talk of a split in Turkish society is not new and if victory alone determined the people’s positions, then the Justice and Development Party would have received a much higher percentage of votes than it did in the last rounds of elections, but it received around 40 per cent.
Ethnic and sectarian sensitivities, along with partisan and ideological sensitivities, cannot be changed by anything. Many, for example, have noticed the position of the Nationalist Movement Party president which was in favour of the constitutional amendments. His part members were not so supportive. This is of course because they viewed victory as the victory of a rival party, irrespective of their position on the amendments.
Regardless of this, the referendum passed and Erdogan has emerged with a new victory and more power. However, the country has not overcome its crises yet. This is not only due to the decline in the economy, contrary to the party’s progress in the past few years, due to the repercussions of the Syrian crisis and most importantly the coup, but also due to the regional crises afflicting all the region’s countries and casting its shadow on Turkey as well as the internal division in the country.
Turkey is not alone in suffering from divisions, but Turkey is facing the most conspiracies and the West’s attack on Erdogan is proof of this. The support received by the Kurds is more proof of this. In addition to this, there are problems with the dreams of the conservatives in Iran, and the major problems in neighbouring Syria and Iraq which came as a result of the issue with Iran.
Turkey is not alone in its suffering from crises as well, as Iran’s crisis is much greater given its exhaustion in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, in addition to internal divisions that may be intensified after the elections next month. Russia is in a major crisis in Syria, as well as with Trump and the economic situation. Europe is in crisis after Britain’s exit and the various internal crises. America is suffering from a crisis with a reckless and unpredictable president, while China and Russia are facing a crisis with the same American president. The result of this is that we are facing chaos in the international arena and in the region. There is no doubt that Erdoagn’s strength in light of a presidential system will give him a change to negotiate strongly with everyone, especially since he has become stronger after the coup due to better control of the army and security forces. This, of course, is dependent on no new surprises arising in light of incessant conspiracy. However, he will need a lot of wisdom and little rhetoric in order to overcome the current crises.
Those who followed the reaction of the Europeans towards the outcome of the referendum, as well as Iran’s frustrated reaction, realise that the result means strength for the man as well as for Turkey more than anything else. There is no value here to preaching for democracy and dictatorship, unless we believe that Iran’s governors are concerned with it or we believe that Europe’s leaders, who embrace leaders of countries who do not know ballot boxes, are concerned with “democratising” the Muslim world.
Translated from Arabi21, 19 April 2017
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.