After Erdogan’s Referendum Victory – By Michael J. Koplow April 16, 2017

Turkey’s Polarization Will Only Deepen

HUSEYIN ALDEMIR / REUTERS Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate in Istanbul, April 2017.

As Turkey watchers obsessively monitored the results of the Turkish constitutional referendum on Sunday, it appeared for a few short hours that something momentous was taking place. Across Turkey, the Yes votes that would transform Turkey from a parliamentary system into a presidential one and create a highly empowered presidency with few meaningful checks and balances seemed to be underperforming expectations. As Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir—Turkey’s three largest cities and the first two reliable AKP bastions during its nearly 15-year reign—all voted No, there was a brief moment where it looked as if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was going to be handed his first real defeat. Although the Yes vote pulled ahead and the constitutional amendments passed, many in the opposition camp and its supporters are taking solace in the narrow margin of victory and the fact that Turkey’s capital along with its biggest city (and Erdogan’s hometown) both rejected the government’s agenda. Their hope is that this portends a new willingness to compromise on Erdogan’s part.

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