Referendum Evaluation

2 05 2017

by Adnan Oktar

On April 16, Turkey went to the polls for a referendum for an amendment to its constitution, including the new administration system.

In this election, where the turnout rate reached a high level of 85%, “yes” votes took the majority with 51.4%, hence the “Party-Affiliated Presidential System” was approved.

Indeed, voter turnout rates are extremely important in terms of democracy and the ability for people to voice their opinions. In this regard, Turkey is among the top countries in the world. Turkey was ranked 44th in the world according to the International Democracy and Election Assistance Institute’s survey on average participation rates for the parliamentary elections from 1945 to 2001, with a turnout rate of 81.3%. Turkey ranked second among OECD countries according to the turnout numbers for elections held in 2011 reported by the Washington-based Pew Research Center.

However, election turnout rates are very low in many of the Western countries. For example, in the most recent US elections, in which Donald Trump was elected as president, the turnout rate was 54.9%. Europe also has low election turnout rates. For example, in the 2014 European Parliament elections, the turnout remained at 43%. While voter turnout in the elections in Germany where Angela Merkel won was recorded at 73%, for the elections held in Britain in 2011 the turnout rate remained at 41%. Meanwhile, voter turnout for the Brexit referendum in Britain was 72.2%, while the turnout rate in Scotland’s independence referendum was 84.59%, a number closer to the turnout rate of the recent referendum held in Turkey. In the Netherlands, the 2016 referendum resulting with the cancellation of the trade agreement signed between the EU and Ukraine only had a voter turnout rate of 32%.

Therefore, when voter turnout is taken into consideration, it can be clearly seen that the will of the people in Turkey is strongly and directly reflected in the number of votes cast.

Referendums, by nature, are democratic choices in which many technical details are discussed in the light of different views and different perspectives, many points are examined at length, and finally, conscientious evaluations are reflected in the vote.

It is known that in these “crucial decision” elections, many people who share numerous common values vote for different outcomes and people may vote differently even though they share common ideals. So in these yes/no elections, voters who vote yes or no have in fact very significant common ideals, such as making the best decision for their country. In the end, even though the result of the election may be determined by just one vote to make a majority, the separation or division of the country over the results is out of the question.

On the other hand, it is also very important for everyone to respect the outcome of the ballot box after referendums where direct democracy is exercised. Again, when we look at other examples, such as in 2016 with the British referendum for a decision to leave or stay in the European Union, perhaps the most important referendum in world history, it resulted with majority voting to withdraw from the EU by a very small margin of votes. Only 51.89% was needed to withdraw from EU. In the referendum, on which 34 million British citizens voted, 17.4 million voted for withdrawal while 16.1 million voted to stay. As with all the referendums and elections held in Europe and America, democracy was put into process and this decision came into force after passing through certain stages. All British citizens who voted to stay only did so to make the future of Britain better. As a result, this decision did not lead to the polarization of the British people among themselves, nor to the division of society. The same is true for other referendums and elections in Europe.

When compared to the last election, it can also be seen that 10% of the voter base under the AK Party and MHP, who were advocating to vote yes, voted no. So it seems that this is not a polarization, but a difference of opinion specific to this referendum.

Even though the votes differed in the referendum for the new administration system in Turkey, in reality, the main point of view has been the same for the AK Party, MHP, and CHP. If we are to express this point of view as a common discourse, it would be: “The governance of Turkey with a stronger, more democratic and better system.” These three big political parties all wish for Turkey’s inseparable unity, and its citizens to live in the best, the most free, and the most beautiful conditions.

As a matter of fact, the inclusive speech made by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım when the results of the referendum were announced is a confirmation of all these statements. In his speech, Mr. Yıldırım emphasized the solidarity and unity of our nation with the following words: “We will have different opinions and solutions, but in the end we will protect our unity and solidarity with everything we have. This is the beauty of democracy. Having different opinions does not mean having superiority over each other in any way. We said different things on public squares, we explained different things to the people. But the last word belonged to the people, they said yes and ended the discussion. We said whatever the people’s will, we would hold it in high esteem. Our people have chosen, and they approved the presidential system… This election showed the level of maturity of Turkish democracy to the whole world. We are first-degree equal citizens of the Republic of Turkey. The competition in the political arena will not break our unity and solidarity. We will build the future with confidence in the direction of the choice of our citizens. There is no loser in this referendum, but the winner is Turkey and its beloved people”.

Of course it is our greatest desire for politicians to use statements that embrace all people and invite them to love much more intensely and frequently. It is our primary wish of all politicians and administrators that “love, compassion, tolerance and inclusiveness” are prioritized in politics not only in Turkey, but in all democratic countries.

 

The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He may be followed at @Harun_Yahya and www.harunyahya.com

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