Turkish constitutional referendum, 2017

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Turkish constitutional referendum, 2017
Referendum to approve 18 proposed amendments to the Constitution of Turkey
(Full details)
Location Turkey and overseas representations
Date Sunday, 16 April 2017
Results
Votes  %
Yes 25,157,025 51.41%
No 23,777,091 48.59%
Valid votes 48,934,116 98.26%
Invalid or blank votes 865,047 1.74%
Total votes 49,799,163 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 58,366,647 85.32%
Results by province
Turkish constitutional referendum 2017.png
  Yes —   No
Official result is yet to be declared.[1]
Turkey
Turkish constitutional referendum
Sunday, 16 April 2017
Campaigns
Choices ordered according to colour and layout of ballot paper
A constitutional referendum was held throughout Turkey on 16 April 2017 on whether to approve 18 proposed amendments to the Turkish constitution that were brought forward by the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). If approved, the office of the Prime Minister would be abolished and the existing parliamentary system of government would be replaced with an executive presidency and a presidential system.[2] The number of seats in Parliament were proposed to be raised from 550 to 600 while the president was proposed to be given more control over appointments to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).[3][4] The referendum was held under a state of emergency that was declared following a failed military coup attempt in July 2016. Early results indicated a 51–49% lead for the “Yes” vote. The Supreme Electoral Council allowed non-stamped ballots to be accepted as valid. The main opposition parties decried this move as illegal, claimed that as many as 1.5 million ballots were unstamped, and refused to recognize the results.[5] The electoral board has stated that the official results might be declared in 11 to 12 days.[1]

An executive presidency has been a long-standing proposal of the governing AKP and its founder, the current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In October 2016, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) announced its co-operation for producing draft proposals with the government, with the combined support of both AKP and MHP MPs being sufficient to put forward the proposals to a referendum following a parliamentary vote in January. Those in favour of a “Yes” vote argued that the changes were necessary for a strong and stable Turkey, arguing that an executive presidency would bring about an end to unstable coalition governments that had dominated Turkish politics since the 1960s up until 2002. The ‘No’ campaign have argued that the proposals would concentrate too much power in the hands of the President, effectively dismantling the separation of powers and taking legislative authority away from Parliament. Critics argued that the proposed system would resemble an ‘elected dictatorship’ with no ability to hold the executive to account, leading effectively to a ‘democratic suicide’.[6] Three days before the referendum, one of Erdoğan’s aides called for a federal system should the ‘Yes’ vote prevail, causing a backlash from the pro-Yes MHP.[7] Both sides of the campaign have been accused of using divisive and extreme rhetoric, with Erdoğan accusing all ‘No’ voters of being terrorists siding with the 2016 failed coup plotters.[8]

The campaign was marred by allegations of state suppression against ‘No’ campaigners, while the ‘Yes’ campaign were able to make use of state facilities and funding to organise rallies and campaign events.[9] Leading members of the ‘No’ campaign, which included many high-profile former members of the MHP such as Meral Akşener, Ümit Özdağ, Sinan Oğan and Yusuf Halaçoğlu were all subject to both violence and campaign restrictions. The ‘Yes’ campaign were faced with campaigning restrictions by several European countries, with the German, Dutch, Danish and Swiss governments all cancelling or requesting the suspension of ‘Yes’ campaign events directed at Turkish voters living abroad. The restrictions caused a sharp deterioration in diplomatic relations and caused a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the Netherlands. Concerns were also raised about voting irregularities, with ‘Yes’ voters in Germany being caught attempting to vote more than once and also being found to have been in possession of ballot papers before the overseas voting process had started.

Background

A ballot paper and envelope used in the referendum. ‘Evet’ translates to Yes while ‘Hayır’ translates to No.

Introducing a presidential system was proposed by then-Minister of Justice Cemil Çiçek and backed by then-Prime Minister Erdoğan in 2005.[12] Since then, presidential system has been openly supported by Justice and Development Party leaders several times, along with a “new constitution”. Justice and Development Party vice-president Hayati Yazıcı proposed April 2017 as a date for the referendum.[13]

Constitutional amendments

Initial proposals[edit source]

On 10 December 2016, the AKP and MHP brought forward 21 proposed amendments to the constitution and began collecting signatures from MPs in order to begin the parliamentary procedures for initiating a referendum. After Assembly Commission talks, 3 proposals were withdrawn, leaving 18 amendments remaining. The full-text proposal in Turkish and the present Turkish constitution are found at the following links.[14][15] The most important changes have been highlighted by the Union of Turkish Bar Associations.[16]

An English-language summary and interpretation of the 18 amendments is listed in the table below.[17][18]

[hide]Description of proposed amendments
Proposal # Article Description of change
1 Article 9 The judiciary is required to act on condition of impartiality.
2 Article 75 The number of seats in the Parliament is raised from 550 to 600.
3 Article 76 The age requirement to stand as a candidate in an election to be lowered from 25 to 18, while the condition of having to complete compulsory military service is to be removed. Individuals with relations to the military would be ineligible to run for election.
4 Article 77 Parliamentary terms are extended from four to five years. Parliamentary and presidential elections will be held on the same day every five years, with presidential elections going to a run-off if no candidate wins a simple majority in the first round.
5 Article 87 The functions of Parliament are

  • Making, changing, removing laws.
  • Accepting international contracts.
  • Discuss, increase or decrease budget (on Budget Commission) and accept or reject the budget on General Assembly.
  • Appoint 7 members of HSYK
  • And using other powers written in the constitution
5 Article 89 To overcome a presidential veto, the Parliament needs to adopt the same bill with an absolute majority (301).
6 Article 98 Parliament now detects cabinet and Vice President with Parliamentary Research, Parliamentary Investigation, General Discussion and Written Question. Interpellation is abolished and replaced with Parliamentary Investigation. Vice President needs to answer Written Questions within 15 days.
7 Article 101 In order to stand as a presidential candidate, an individual requires the endorsement of one or more parties that won 5% or more in the preceding parliamentary elections and 100,000 voters. The elected president no longer needs to terminate their party membership if they have one.
8 Article 104 The President becomes both the head of state and head of government, with the power to appoint and sack ministers and Vice President. The president can issue decrees about executive. If legislation makes a law about the same topic that President issued an executive order, decree will become invalid and parliamentary law become valid.
9 Article 105 Parliament can open parliamentary investigation with an absolute majority (301). Parliament discusses proposal in 1 month. Following the completion of Discussion, Parliamentary investigation can begin in Parliament with a hidden three-fifths (360) vote in favor. Following the completion of investigations, the parliament can vote to indict the President with a hidden two-thirds (400) vote in favor.
10 Article 106 The President can appoint one or more Vice Presidents. If the Presidency falls vacant, then fresh presidential elections must be held within 45 days. If parliamentary elections are due within less than a year, then they too are held on the same day as early presidential elections. If the parliament has over a year left before its term expires, then the newly elected president serves until the end of the parliamentary term, after which both presidential and parliamentary elections are held. This does not count towards the President’s two-term limit. Parliamentary investigations into possible crimes committed by Vice Presidents and ministers can begin in Parliament with a three-fifths vote in favor. Following the completion of investigations, the parliament can vote to indict Vice Presidents or ministers with a two-thirds vote in favor. If found guilty, the Vice President or minister in question is only removed from office if their crime is one that bars them from running for election. If a sitting MP is appointed as a minister or Vice President, their parliamentary membership will be terminated.
11 Article 116 The President and three-fifths of the Parliament can decide to renew elections. In this case, the enactor also dissolves itself until elections.
12 Article 119 The President’s ability to declare state of emergency is now subject to parliamentary approval to take effect. The Parliament can extend, remove or shorten it. States of emergency can be extended for up to four months at a time except during war, where no such limitation will be required. Every presidential decree issues during a state of emergency will need an approval of Parliament.
13 Article 125 The acts of the President are now subject to judicial review.
13 Article 142 Military courts are abolished unless they are erected to investigate actions of soldiers under conditions of war.
13 Article 146 The President used to appoint one Justice from High Military Court of Appeals, and one from the High Military Administrative Court. As military courts are abolished, the number of Justices in the Constitutional Court reduced to 15 from 17. Consequently, presidential appointees reduced to 12 from 14, while the Parliament continues to appoint three.
14 Article 159 Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors is renamed to “Board of Judges and Prosecutors”, members are reduced to 13 from 22, departments are reduced to 2 from 3. 4 members are appointed by President, 7 will be appointed by the Grand Assembly. Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) candidates will need to get 2/3 (400) votes to pass first round and will need 3/5 (360) votes in second round to be a member of HSYK.(Other 2 members are Justice Minister and Ministry of Justice Undersecretary, which is unchanged).
15 Article 161 President proposes fiscal budget to Grand Assembly 75 days prior to fiscal new year. Budget Commission members can make changes to budget but Parliamentary members cannot make proposals to change public expenditures. If the budget is not approved, then a temporary budget will be proposed. If the temporary budget is also not approved, the previous year’s budget would be used with the previous year’s increment ratio.[note 1]
16 Several articles Adaptation of several articles of the constitution with other changes, mainly transferring executive powers of cabinet to President
16 Article 123 President gets power to create States.
17 Temporary Article 21 Next presidential and General elections will be held on 3 November 2019. If Grand Assembly decides early elections, both will be held at the same day. Board of Judges and Prosecutors elections will be made within 30 days of approval of this law. Military courts will be abolished once the law comes into force.
18 Applicability of amendments 1-17 The amendments (2, 4 and 7) will come into force after new elections, other amendments (except temporary article) will come into force once newly elected president is sworn in. Annulled the article which elected Presidents forfeit membership in a political party. This constitutional amendment will be voted in a referendum as a whole.
Notes
  1. Jump up^ This increment ratio is defined by Ministry of Finance and determines changes on absolute-valued taxes and fines.

Parliamentary Constitutional Commission[edit source]

The AKP presenting their constitutional proposals to Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman, December 2016

The Parliamentary Constitutional Commission scrutinising the proposed changes

After being signed by the AKP’s 316 MPs, the 21 proposed changes were submitted to the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly and were then referred to the Parliamentary Constitutional Commission.[19] The Parliamentary Constitutional Commission, headed by AK Party MP Mustafa Şentop, began scrutinising the proposals in December 2016, earlier than the planned date of January 2017. The Constitutional Commission is formed of 25 Members of which 15 are from the AKP, 5 are from the CHP, 3 are from the HDP and 2 are from the MHP, as per the composition of parliament. Since the AKP held a large majority of the commission’s seats, it was expected by media commentators that there would be minimal surprise developments at the scrutiny stage.[20] Debates in the commission were heated, with occasional fights being observed between MPs.[21]

The Constitutional Commission has the power to amend or reject the proposed changes before they are put to a vote for all MPs. The Commission made minor changes to numerous proposals, such as raising the number of members of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors from 12 to 13.[22] So far, the commission has rejected three of the 21 proposed changes, reducing the constitutional package from 21 proposals to 18. The 5th proposal, which created ‘reserve MPs’ to take the parliamentary seats that fall vacant between elections, was controversially rejected with just three signatures, well short of the support of 25 commission members or 184 total MPs necessary.[23] It was reported that AKP MPs opposed the creation of ‘reserve MPs’ on the grounds that it threatened the security of sitting MPs by incentivising reserves to incapacitate them in order to take their seat.[24] The 15th proposal that gave the President the right to structure the civil service and state institutions through executive decrees was also rejected.[25] A day later on 29 December, the 14th proposal which gave the right for the President to appoint senior bureaucratic officials was rejected.

The Commission completed the approval process on 30 December, rejecting 3 of the 21 proposals in total.[26]

Parliamentary Constitutional Commission scrutiny process results
Proposal 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
Result Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Parliamentary voting[edit source]

MPs voting on the proposed amendments, January 2017

Following the completion of the Constitutional Commission hearings, the 18 proposals were presented to parliament for ratification. Constitutional amendments need a three fifths majority (330 votes) to be put forward to a referendum and a two-thirds majority (367 votes) to be ratified directly. Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials claimed before the vote that even if the 367-threshold was reached, the government would not ratify the changes without a referendum.[27]

Parliament voted on each of the 18 proposals separately in two rounds. The first round served as an indicator of whether the amendments would gather sufficient support, with amendments being proposed by all parties present in the chamber. In the second round, parties are no longer permitted to propose changes to the proposals. The results of the second round are taken into account, with 330 votes needed to send them to a referendum or 367 for direct implementation. A final vote on all of the approved proposals at large, with the same thresholds, was undertaken at the end of the second round, with the entire process being disbanded if votes in favour fell below 330.[28]

Of the total 550 Members of Parliament, 537 were entitled to a vote. 11 MPs from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were under arrest for terrorism charges and were unable to partake in the vote, with the remaining 48 HDP MPs boycotting the vote after their motion calling for the arrested MPs to be brought to parliament to vote was rejected.[29] The Parliamentary Speaker İsmail Kahraman, who is unable to take part in the vote by virtue of being the Speaker, was hospitalised during the vote, meaning that AKP deputy speaker Ahmet Aydın presided over the proceedings and was therefore unable to cast a vote.[30]

Of the 537 MPs eligible to vote, the AKP held 315, the CHP 133, the MHP 39, the HDP 48 and 2 were independent. Of the MHP’s 39 MPs, 6 had openly stated that they would vote against the amendments, leaving the total number of MPs expected to vote ‘Yes’ at 348. The CHP’s 133 MPs and the two independents, which consisted of Aylin Nazlıaka and Ümit Özdağ, voted ‘No’ while the HDP boycotted the votes.[31]

Theoretical distribution of votes according to party lines
Party Leader Party position Total MPs Eligible to vote Voting yes Voting no Graphical representation
AKP Justice and Development Party Binali Yıldırım Yes Yes 317 315 315 0 TBMM at January 2017.png
CHP Republican People’s Party Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu No 133 133 0 133
MHP Nationalist Movement Party Devlet Bahçeli Yes Yes 39 39 33 6
HDP Peoples’ Democratic Party Selahattin Demirtaş / Figen Yüksekdağ No 59 48
Boycotting
Independents No (both) 2 2 0 2 MPs ordered by party line. Black denotes MPs ineligible to vote
Total 550 537 348 141 Yes Referendum

Parliamentary voting began on 9 January, with the first round of voting being completed on 15 January. Opposition politicians criticised the rushed way in which the votes were conducted, with four to five votes taking place in a day with no adjournments.[32] The votes were marred by numerous irregularities, with CHP Members of Parliament filming AKP MPs openly casting their vote or intimidating uncertain MPs to vote ‘Yes’.[33][34] The Minister of Health, Recep Akdağ, was filmed casting an open vote, which is disallowed by the constitution, and openly admitting that he had committed a crime afterwards.[35] AKP MPs responded to attempts to film them with hostility, with fights occasionally breaking out between government and opposition MPs.[36] CHP MP Fatma Kaplan Hürriyet was allegedly strangled by AKP Parliamentary Group Leader Mustafa Elitaş after she filmed Elitaş and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım casting open votes.[37] Several MPs were hospitalised, while the podium where MPs rose to make speeches was dislocated with one of its €15,000 microphones being reported as missing.[38] The second round of voting was completed on 20 January, with all of the proposed amendments being approved. A final motion to enact the approved amendments was approved by 339 votes, surpassing the 330-vote threshold to hold a referendum but falling short of the 367-vote threshold needed to enact the amendments directly.

Article voting[edit source]

Proposal Issue First round Second round Results
MP turnout Yes No Other MP turnout Yes No Other
Motion to begin the voting process 480 338 134 3
1 Neutrality of the judiciary 484 347 132 5 486 345 140 1 Yes
2 Increasing the number of MPs to 600 from 550 480 343 133 3 485 342 139 4 Yes
3 Eligibility for parliamentary candidacy 485 341 139 5 486 342 137 6 Yes
4 Elections every five years for both Parliament and Presidency 486 343 139 4 486 342 138 6 Yes
5 Powers and responsibilities of Parliament 354 343 7 4 486 342 140 4 Yes
6 Audit authorities of Parliament 483 343 137 3 485 342 138 5 Yes
7 Election of the President 482 340 136 6 484 340 136 8 Yes
8 Duties of the President 481 340 135 6 483 339 138 6 Yes
9 Penal responsibility of the President 485 343 137 5 483 341 137 5 Yes
10 Vice-presidency and ministries 483 343 135 5 481 340 136 5 Yes
11 Renewal of elections 483 341 134 8 481 342 135 4 Yes
12 State of Emergency 482 344 133 5 484 342 138 4 Yes
13 Abolition of military courts 482 343 133 6 484 343 136 5 Yes
14 High council of judges and prosecutors 483 341 133 9 487 342 139 6 Yes
15 Budget regulation 483 341 134 8 486 342 141 3 Yes
16 Adaptation of other articles 482 341 134 7 486 342 141 3 Yes
17 Temporary article for transition to new system 484 342 135 7 485 341 139 5 Yes
18 President can be party member &
when changes would be effective
481 344 131 6 488 343 142 3 Yes
Motion to enact the approved changes (330 for referendum, 367 for direct implementation) 488 339 142 7 Yes

Several[clarification needed] AKP MPs voted openly for the changes, violating the constitutional requirement of a secret vote.[39]

Reception

Negative reception[edit source]

MHP MPs Özcan Yeniçeri, Ümit Özdağ and Yusuf Halaçoğlu announcing their opposition to the proposed constitutional changes

The amendments were received with heavy criticism from opposition parties and non-governmental organisations, with criticism focusing particularly on the erosion of the separation of powers and the abolition of parliamentary accountability. Constitutional legal experts such as Kemal Gözler and İbrahim Kaboğlu claimed that the changes would result in the Parliament becoming effectively powerless, while the executive president would have controls over the executive, legislative and judiciary.[40][41] On 4 December, the Atatürkist Thought Association (ADD), Association for the Support of Contemporary Living (ÇYDD) and the Trade Union Confederation held a rally in Ankara despite having their permissions revoked by the Governor of Ankara, calling for a rejection of the executive presidential system on the grounds that it threatened judicial independence and secular democratic values.[42]

The amendments were initially received with mixed responses from the opposition CHP, which have long been critical of the AKP’s constitutional plans. Shortly after the proposals were made public and submitted to Parliament on 10 December, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım reported that the CHP was in agreement with 5 of the proposed changes.[43] However, reception by the CHP was negative, with the party’s deputy leader Selin Sayek Böke claiming that the proposals essentially created a “sultanate“.[44] Parliamentary group leader Levent Gök, one of the first to comment on the released proposals, claimed that the changes would revert 140 years of Turkish parliamentary democracy, calling on all parties to reject the proposals.[45] Another of the CHP’s parliamentary group leaders, Özgür Özel, called the proposals a “regime change”, with the parliament being left essentially powerless in scrutinising ministers and holding them to account.[46] Özel claimed that the AKP were unlikely to obtain the 330 votes necessary to put the changes to a referendum, stating that he would be surprised if the number of MPs voting in favour reached 275.[47] CHP MP Selina Doğan claimed that the authoritarian nature of the proposals would effectively end Turkey’s EU accession negotiations, citing the lack of any relevance to European values.[48] CHP MP Cemal Oktan Yüksel claimed that the proposals resembled the constitution of Assad‘s Syria, stating that it wouldn’t be a national constitution but “Syria’s constitution translated”.[49]

Despite having the nationalist MHP’s official support, it was reported that Turkish nationalists were also overwhelmingly critical of both the proposals and their party’s involvement in their drafting.[50] Bahçeli, who has historically lent support to the AKP in controversial situations, was subject to criticism from all major parties for his decision to support the constitutional amendments, being described as the AKP’s “back garden”, “life-line” or “spare tyre” by critics.[51][52][53] On 24 October 2016, 5 of the 40 MHP Members of Parliament declared that they would reject the constitutional proposals, against their party line.[54] Ümit Özdağ, who was a leadership candidate against Bahçeli and one of the 5 MPs critical of the changes, had his party membership revoked in November.[55] A poll released by Gezici in December showed that almost two-thirds of MHP supporters were against the proposed changes, though MHP supporters were also the most undecided amongst the other parties.[56] On 27 December, MHP MP Kadir Koçdemir became the fifth MP from his party to publicly state his opposition to the proposals.[57]

Speaking shortly after the proposals were released, the HDP’s spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen criticised the proposed changes for being anti-democratic and against the principle of judicial independence. Citing the proposed creation of “executive orders” that can be decreed by the President at will without parliamentary scrutiny, Bilgen criticised the nature of the changes, calling them poorly written and an attempt to cover up constitutional violations that had taken place under the current constitution.[58] However, on 18 December, HDP MP Kadri Yıldırım claimed that there would be no reason to reject the proposals if the changes included a separate “status” for Turkish Kurds and a constitutional entitlement to education for Kurdish citizens in their native Kurdish language.[59] This led to speculation that the HDP could be convinced to support the changes by the AKP government, though the MHP would be unlikely to jointly support any changes that are also endorsed by the HDP.[60] On 21 December, the CHP and HDP issued a parliamentary motion that would declare the proposals “unconstitutional”, but the motion was rejected by MPs.[61]

The changes have also received severe criticism from outside Turkey. One commentator went as far as to declare that “if a majority votes yes, this will be the end of parliamentary democracy in Turkey.” [62] The NGO Human Rights Watch stated that the changes were a “huge threat to human rights, the rule of law, and the country’s democratic future.”[63] The Economist concluded that “a vote for Yes would saddle the country with an elected dictator.” [64] The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, in its March 2017 Opinion on the Constitutional amendments, defined them as “a threat to democracy” and stressed the “dangers of degeneration of the proposed system towards and authoritarian and personal regime”. [65] Also, before the vote took place, the openDemocracy website reported that some European news outlets published concerns that the 2017 referendum amounted to something like an “enabling act” for Erdogan.[66]

Campaign positions

Ruling party AKP and opposition MHP are the signatories of the amendments. MHP has provided their conditional support until their conditions are met.[67] Main opposition CHP’s initial position was to wait until the amendments were finalized. CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu once mentioned of bringing the changes into Grand Assembly.[68] Later, CHP decided to favor No vote and started “Türkiye’yi Böldürmeyeceğiz” (Turkish: We’ll not partition Turkey) rallies. Parliament’s fourth party HDP is against the changes.

Political parties[edit source]

NGOs and other groups[edit source]

Campaigns

‘Yes’ campaign[edit source]

The AK Party’s ‘Yes’ campaign logo. Kararımız evet translates to ‘Our decision is yes’

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote in Kahramanmaraş, 17 February 2017

The ‘Yes’ campaign has been predominantly led by Justice and Development Party (AKP) politicians, as well as Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) politicians loyal to leader Devlet Bahçeli. Initially expecting a 7 February start to the campaign, the AKP eventually kicked off their official campaign on 25 February with a presentation by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım at the Ankara sports stadium. Amid poor showings in opinion polls in February, Erdoğan reportedly asked pro-government pollsters to suspend their opinion polling until the end of March, while proposals for a joint electoral rally by both leading AKP and MHP politicians has also been proposed.[151]

The ‘Yes’ campaign has been criticised for its smear campaign against individuals voting ‘No’, associating them with numerous terrorist organisations. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım claiming that they would vote ‘Yes’ because the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the so-called Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation (FETÖ) were voting ‘No’, though both organisations have historically been in favour of an executive presidency.[152] President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also caused controversy when he claimed that those voting ‘No’ were siding with the coup plotters behind the 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt.[153]

At present, the ‘Yes’ campaign has been conducted through electoral rallies held by Prime Minister Yıldırım, leading AK Party politicians and also President Erdoğan, who has held ‘public opening’ rallies similar to his tactics in the June 2015 general election.[154] MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has conducted conferences in favour of a ‘Yes’ vote, with the first occurring in Konya on 12 February 2017.[155]

On 10 March, the Great Union Party (BBP) led by Mustafa Destici announced that they would support a ‘Yes’ vote, bringing the total number of parties supporting ‘Yes’ to six.[156] Both the BBP and MHP have suffered serious opposition to their support for a ‘Yes’ vote, with BBP members calling for Destici’s resignation following his announcement.[157] The MHP suffered a wave of resignations, inner-party suspensions and a rival ‘No’ campaign run by high-profile nationalist politicians, with opinion polls indicating that a significant majority of MHP voters intend to vote against the proposals.[158][159][160] Most polls put the percentage of ‘No’ voters in the MHP at between 50% to 80%, with definite ‘Yes’ voters remaining at 20-25%.[161][162] Politicians supporting ‘No’ from both the MHP and BBP have claimed that over 95% of their party supporters are favouring a ‘No’ vote, breaking with their party’s executive decision.[163][164]

Key parties campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote
Party Leader Details
AKP Justice and Development Party Binali Yıldırım View campaign
MHP Nationalist Movement Party (party executive) Devlet Bahçeli View campaign

‘No’ campaign[edit source]

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu addressing a ‘No’ rally in Diyarbakır

HDP politicians holding numerous ‘No’ banners in a parliamentary group meeting

The CHP unveiled their campaign logo and slogan on 28 February, using the slogan ‘Geleceğim için Hayır’ (translating to No for my future). The party planned their first electoral rally in Amasya, though preliminary rallies were held by party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on 21 December 2016 in Adana and by dissident MP Muharrem İnce on 8 March 2017 at Zonguldak. CHP MPs also made a series of overseas visits to rally support from overseas voters, with former leader Deniz Baykal holding an event in France.[165]

High-profile dissident MHP politicians, such as Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan, Ümit Özdağ and Yusuf Halaçoğlu all began a ‘No’ campaign based on Turkish nationalism, rivalling the MHP’s official ‘Yes’ campaign. The dissident ‘No’ campaign attracted significantly higher popularity than the MHP’s official ‘Yes’ events, with opinion polls indicating that an overwhelming majority of MHP voters intend to break the party line and vote ‘No’. In addition to the MHP dissidents, the Turkish Bars Association and its President Metin Feyzioğlu embarked on a nationwide tour, intending to meet with locals in numerous towns and villages to rally support for a ‘No’ vote.[166]

‘No’ campaigners have faced alleged government-backed coercion and suppression. On 1 March, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) unveiled a 78-point report regarding irregularities and suppression of ‘No’ campaigners, with Deputy Leader Öztürk Yılmaz claiming that those who were campaigning for a ‘No’ vote faced fear and state coercion.[167][168] CHP parliamentary group leader Engin Altay also criticised the government for using state funds to fund the ‘Yes’ campaign while repressing ‘No’ voters, claiming that their conduct did not allow them to talk of ‘democracy’.[169]

Key parties campaigning for a ‘No’ vote
Party Leader Details
CHP Republican People’s Party Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu View campaign
MHP Nationalist Movement Party (opposition within the party) Collective leadership View campaign
HDP Peoples’ Democratic Party Selahattin Demirtaş View campaign

Controversies and electoral misconduct

Allegations of electoral misconduct, irregularities throughout the campaign and state coercion of ‘No’ supporters were widespread in the run-up to the referendum.

State suppression of ‘No’ voters[edit source]

The AKP government and the General Directorate of Security (police) have both been criticised for employing tactics designed to limit the campaigning abilities of ‘No’ supporters, through arrests, control of the media and political suppression. On 23 January 2017, university students campaigning for a ‘No’ vote on a commuter ferry in İstanbul were implicated by security officers for ‘insulting the president’, with their arrests being stopped by onboard passengers.[170] On 31 January, Republican People’s Party council member Sera Kadıgil was arrested and later freed on charges of ‘insulting religious values and inciting hatred’ for campaigning for a ‘No’ vote on social media.[171] In Bursa, a voter who revealed that he was voting ‘No’ was reported to the police and later arrested.[172] National television channels have been vastly in favour of the ‘Yes’ campaign. One study found that ‘Yes’ supporters received 90% of airtime.[64]

Municipalities held by pro-‘Yes’ parties have also sought to limit the campaign events of ‘No’ voters by denying them rights to hold rallies in public spaces of community halls. Meral Akşener, a leading nationalist politician and one of the most prominent campaigners for a ‘No’ vote, was stopped from holding speeches when her campaign venues in Yalova and Edirne were abruptly shut down shortly before her events, with posters advertising her events in Eskişehir being ripped down.[173][174] On 11 February while she was making a speech at a hotel hall in Çanakkale, the venue suffered a power cut and was perceived by the pro-opposition media to be a symbol of the oppressive tactics against the ‘No’ campaign. After initially being obstructed by riot police, attendees at the conference used their iPhone lights to allow the event to continue.[175][176][177]

Overseas campaign bans[edit source]

Overseas election campaigning, even in diplomatic missions, is illegal under Turkish law; yet most political parties in Turkey, including CHP and the ruling AKP, have flouted the law.[178][179]

Foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu making a statement following the cancellation of campaign events in Germany

In early March, pro-‘YES’ campaigners, including high-profile AK Party government ministers were barred from holding campaign events in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands.[180]

Germany[edit source]

In Germany, local municipalities withdrew permits for Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ‘s campaign event in Gaggenau and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi‘s event in Cologne.[181] While authorities citied security concerns, the insufficient capacities of the rented venues and irregularities in the organisational process, the Turkish government strongly condemned the cancellations and claimed that they were directly linked to an anti-Turkish agenda of the German federal government.[182] Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu claimed that Germany had showed ‘double standards’ and a disregard for ‘human rights and freedom of speech’ by cancelling the events. Following a negative reaction by the German federal government to a proposed rally by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Erdoğan accused Germany of ‘Nazi-style tactics’, causing strong condemnation by German officials and a souring of diplomatic relations.[183] The Turkish government also accused Germany of funding and supporting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organisation in both countries.[184] Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was due to meet his German counterpart on 8 March, with scheduled campaign speeches in Hamburg also being cancelled due to irregularities with the venues. Çavuşoğlu therefore made his speech in the Hamburg consulate, despite Turkish law forbidding election campaigns in diplomatic missions.[185] The cancellations in Germany were met by condemnation from the main opposition and pro-‘No’ Republican People’s Party, with former leader Deniz Baykal cancelling a planned visit to Germany as a result.[186]

Diplomatic crisis with the Netherlands[edit source]

Pro-‘Yes’ protests outside the Dutch embassy in Turkey following the Dutch–Turkish diplomatic crisis

A diplomatic crisis occurred between Turkey and the Netherlands on 11 March, after Çavuşoğlu’s official plane had its permission to land revoked mid-air ahead of a scheduled campaign speech. Later that day, Families and Social Policy Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya‘s convoy was stopped by Dutch police, which blocked her access to the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. Kaya was later declared persona non grata, with a regional state of emergency being declared and her convoy being asked to leave the country. Kaya was therefore forced to return to Germany, while Çavuşoğlu left for France to attend another campaign event. Violent protests by Turkish expats broke out in Rotterdam following the expulsion of both ministers, with the police making 12 arrests.[187]

The Dutch government had previously asked Turkish ministers to refrain from campaigning in the country, fearing that divisive campaign rhetoric would sow divisions within the Turkish community.[188] Prime Minister Mark Rutte claimed that negotiations with the Turkish government to allow a small scale speech by the minister were still ongoing, when Çavuşoğlu publicly threatened with sanctions should ministers be prevented from campaigning. It was these threats that made the situation unsolvable to the Dutch government.[189]

Many people in Turkey took the side of the Turkish government in the matter, with the pro-‘No’ main opposition announcing their support for the government and calling on the AKP to freeze diplomatic relations with the Netherlands.[190] All CHP overseas campaign events were later suspended in solidarity, while the pro-‘No’ MHP dissident camp also expressed their condemnation against the Dutch government for their actions.[191][187][192] In the Dutch parliament all parties, except for the two-seat Denk party, supported the decisions of the Dutch Government. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated his claim that European governments that suspended campaigning were ‘Nazi remnants’, which the Dutch government denounced as “unacceptable”.[193]

Unstamped ballots[edit source]

Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey lifted a rule that required each ballot to have an official stamp. Instead, it ruled that ballots with no stamp would be considered valid, unless there was proof that they were fraudulent. The opposition parties claim that as many as 1.5 million ballots without a stamp were accepted.[194] Opposition parties CHP and HDP have said they will contest the results. CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said that lifting the rule violated Turkish law.[194] According to Meral Akşener “No” votes win by 52 percent. [195] Peoples’ Democratic Party contested the election results announced by pro-government Anadolu Agency and insisted that 1.5 million votes without valid stamps should be cancelled.[196]

Opinion polls

Nationwide[edit source]

Opinion polling for the 2017 Turkish constitutional referendum:      Yes,      No,      Undecided

Date(s)
conducted
Polling organisation/client Sample size Considering undecided vote Considering only Yes/No vote
Yes No Undecided Yes No
16 Apr 2017 Nationwide results 51.2 48.8 51.2 48.8
11–13 Apr 2017 ORC 3.980 59.4 40.6 59.4 40.6
11–13 Apr 2017 Qriously  ? 44.1 30.6 25.3 59.0 41.0
8–13 Apr 2017 A&G 6,048 52.9 34.1 13.0 60.8 39.2
8–12 Apr 2017 THEMİS 46.1 53.9 46.1 53.9
7–10 Apr 2017 KONDA 3,462 46.9 44.1 9.0 51.5 48.5
5–10 Apr 2017 AKAM 8,160 39.3 45.7 15.0 46.2 53.8
5–10 Apr 2017 MAK 5,500 54.6 41.4 4.0 56.5 43.5
5–10 Apr 2017 ANAR 4,189 52.0 48.0 52.0 48.0
8–9 Apr 2017 Gezici 1,399 46.6 43.5 9.9 51.3 48.7
9 Apr 2017 Overseas voting for Turkish expats ends
2–8 Apr 2017 Konsensus 2,000 49.0 46.7 4.3 51.2 48.8
1–8 Apr 2017 THEMİS 600 41.7 47.3 11.0 46.9 53.1
4–6 Apr 2017 Qriously 2,593 43.5 31.1 25.4 58.3 41.7
1–4 Apr 2017 NET 2,700 45.9 47.3 6.8 49.2 50.8
1–2 Apr 2017 Gezici 53.3 46.7 53.3 46.7
15 Mar–2 Apr 2017 CHP 4,681 33.2 43.0 22.7 43.6 56.4
28–30 Mar 2017 Qriously 3,418 43.6 27.4 29.0 61.4 38.6
24–27 Mar 2017 ORC 2,740 55.4 44.6 55.4 44.6
27 Mar 2017 Konsensus 1,555 43.1 45.2 11.8 48.8 51.2
27 Mar 2017 Voting for Turkish expats abroad begins in 120 different overseas representations in 57 countries, as well as at customs gates.
10–24 Mar 2017 Sonar [n 1] 5,000 43.34 43.30 13.36 48.8 51.2
18–22 Mar 2017 AKAM 2,032 37.0 46.2 16.8 44.5 55.5
17 Mar 2017 Gezici 43.5 45.5 11.0 48.9 51.1
17 Mar 2017 CHP 42.0 46.0 12.0 47.7 52.3
8–15 Mar 2017 Times 2,000 42.3 51.7 6.0 44.3 55.7
10–15 Mar 2017 CHP 5,000 40.2 54.8 5.0 42.3 57.7
6–13 Mar 2017 Politic’s 2,753 46.2 36.9 16.9 55.7 44.3
12 Mar 2017 A diplomatic crisis erupts between Turkey and the Netherlands after the latter bars Turkish ministers from campaigning in Rotterdam
3–9 Mar 2017 AKAM 8,120 35.6 48.2 16.2 42.4 57.6
1–7 Mar 2017 ORC 3,140 51.6 38.7 9.7 57.2 42.8
25 Feb – 2 Mar 2017 MAK 5,400 53.0 37.0 10.0 58.9 41.1
1 Mar 2017 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reportedly asks pro-government pollsters to stop conducting polls until the end of March[197]
16–21 Feb 2017 AKAM 4,060 34.9 45.2 19.9 43.6 56.4
16–19 Feb 2017 NET 3,535 43.8 45.8 10.4 48.9 51.1
10–18 Feb 2017 THEMİS 1,985 36.2 49.3 14.5 42.4 57.6
10 Feb 2017 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan approves the referendum, with the date confirmed as Sunday, 16 April 2017
9 Feb 2017 Sonar 43.0 40.0 17.0 51.8 48.2
8 Feb 2017 CHP 41.0 48.0 11.0 46.1 53.9
4–5 Feb 2017 Gezici 2,860 43.7 45.7 10.6 48.9 51.1
26 Jan – 1 Feb 2017 MAK 5,400 52.0 35.0 13.0 59.8 40.2
30 Jan 2017 GENAR 55.0 45.0 55.0 45.0
24–29 Jan 2017 Konsensus 1,499 44.2 41.1 14.7 51.8 48.2
26 Jan 2017 Gezici 41.8 58.2 41.8 58.2
21 Jan 2017 Parliament votes in favour of submitting all 18 proposed constitutional amendments to a referendum
6–19 Jan 2017 MetroPoll 2,000 42.4 44.0 13.6 49.1 50.9
11–17 Jan 2017 AKAM 2,240 42.4 57.6 42.4 57.6
1–11 Jan 2017 ORC 2,340 62.0 38.0 62.0 38.0
3–10 Jan 2017 Optimar 2,043 46.3 40.0 13.7 53.6 46.4
1–25 Dec 2016 Sonar 5,000 42.3 44.6 13.1 48.7 51.3
7–16 Dec 2016 KHAS 1,000 36.9 42.2 20.9 46.6 53.4
15 Dec 2016 ORC 2,450 61.0 39.0 61.0 39.0
1–8 Dec 2016 The AK Party and the MHP agree on draft constitutional proposals and refer them to Parliament for consultation[198][199]
21 Nov – 6 Dec 2016 İVEM 3,650 50.0 39.0 11.0 56.2 43.8
25 Nov – 3 Dec 2016 Gezici 42.0 58.0 42.0 58.0
30 Nov 2016 MetroPoll 49.0 51.0 43.3 56.7
26–27 Nov 2016 A&G 3,010 45.7 41.6 12.7 52.4 47.6
15–17 Nov 2016 Andy-AR 1,516 47.1 41.3 8.5 53.3 46.7
31 Oct 2016 The AK Party present their constitutional proposals to the MHP, beginning negotiations between the two parties[200]
10–16 Oct 2016 ORC 21,980 55.9 36.2 7.9 60.7 39.3
11–12 Oct 2016 Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım accepts the MHP‘s calls for the AK Party to bring their proposals to Parliament[201]
15–16 Jul 2016 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt
5–12 Jun 2016 ORC 2,240 58.9 41.1 58.9 41.1
1 June 2016 MetroPoll 1,200 41.9 47.5 10.5 46.9 53.1
30 May 2016 Optimar 1,508 49.3 41.6 9.1 54.2 45.8
5–6 May 2016 ORC 1,265 58.4 41.6 58.4 41.6
25–29 Apr 2016 MAK 5,500 57.0 33.0 10.0 63.3 36.7
25 Apr 2016 AKAM 1,214 35.0 45.7 19.3 43.4 56.6
19 Apr 2016 Gezici 55.2 35.5 9.3 60.9 39.1
2–6 Mar 2016 ORC 4,176 57.0 43.0 57.0 43.0
12 Feb 2016 İVEM 60.0 31.0 9.0 65.9 34.1
27 Jan – 3 Feb 2016 ORC 8,329 56.1 43.9 56.1 43.9
1 Jan 2016 GENAR 4,900 55.0 40.8 4.2 57.4 42.6
18 May 2015 Gezici 4,860 23.8 76.2 23.8 76.2
23 Feb 2015 Gezici 3,840 23.2 76.8 23.2 76.8
3 Feb 2015 MetroPoll 34.3 42.2 23.5 44.8 55.2

Overseas[edit source]

Date(s)
conducted
Polling organisation/client Sample size Considering undecided vote Considering only Yes/No vote
Yes No Undecided Yes No
10 Apr 2017 MAK Exit poll 62.0 38.0 62.0 38.0
27 Mar–9 Apr 2017 Overseas voting for Turkish expats takes place in 120 representations in 57 countries.

Results[edit source]

Overall results[edit source]

Choice Nationwide votes % Overseas votes % Customs votes % Total votes %
Yes Yes 24,325,817 51.23 831,208 59.46 52,961 54.17 25,157,025 51.41
No 23,201,726 48.77 575,365 40.54 44,816 45.83 23,777,091 48.59
Valid votes
47,527,543 98.25 1,308,796 97,777 48,934,116
Invalid/blank votes
847,393 1.75 16,892 762 865,047
Turnout
48,374,936
87.45
85.10
Registered voters
55,319,567
58,520,222
Source: NTV Yeni Şafak (Unofficial results)

Results by province[edit source]

Province Registered voters People voted Valid votes Invalid votes Yes Yes (%) No No (%) Turnout (%)
Adana 535,714 41.81% 745,494 58.19%
Adıyaman 230,176 69.76% 99,781 30.24%
Afyonkarahisar 281,392 64.56% 154,462 35.44%
Ağrı 87,257 43.08% 115,271 56.92%
Aksaray 162,862 75.49% 52,884 24.51%
Amasya 121,360 56.26% 94,367 43.74%
Ankara 1,668,565 48.85% 1,747,132 51.15%
Antalya 574,421 40.92% 829,415 59.08%
Ardahan 23,455 44.27% 29,529 55.73%
Artvin 49,974 46.93% 56,504 53.07%
Aydın 245,191 35.70% 441,696 64.30%
Balıkesir 368,741 45.50% 441,598 54.50%
Bartın 67,744 56.03% 53,160 43.97%
Batman 96,139 36.35% 168,376 63.65%
Bayburt 37,629 81.70% 8,431 18.30%
Bilecik 65,867 48.86% 68,954 51.14%
Bingöl 95,987 72.57% 36,273 27.43%
Bitlis 87,852 59.35% 60,170 40.65%
Bolu 120,685 62.26% 73,162 37.74%
Burdur 87,451 51.75% 81,550 48.25%
Bursa 987,904 53.21% 868,788 46.79%
Çanakkale 139,974 39.54% 213,991 60.46%
Çankırı 79,760 73.35% 28,980 26.65%
Çorum 219,394 64.49% 120,814 35.51%
Denizli 289,984 44.53% 361,198 55.47%
Diyarbakır 251,733 32.41% 525,089 67.59%
Düzce 164,122 70.56% 68,476 29.44%
Edirne 78,907 29.51% 188,513 70.49%
Elazığ 240,774 71.79% 94,620 28.81%
Erzincan 80,903 60.50% 52,816 39.50%
Erzurum 300,589 74.48% 103,007 25.52%
Eskişehir 236,994 42.43% 321,623 57.57%
Gaziantep 603,954 62.45% 363,136 37.55%
Giresun 164,567 61.66% 102,329 38.34%
Gümüşhane 54,601 75.16% 18,050 24.84%
Hakkâri 41,104 32.42% 85,689 67.58%
Hatay 401,405 45.65% 477,978 54.35%
Iğdır 30,817 34.80% 57,736 65.20%
Isparta 148,917 56.04% 116,809 43.96%
Istanbul 4,479,272 48.65% 4,728,318 51.35%
İzmir 870,658 31.20% 1,919,745 68.80%
Kahramanmaraş 458,349 73.96% 161,395 26.04%
Karabük 88,969 60.68% 57,646 39.32%
Karaman 94,289 63.85% 53,386% 36.15
Kars 70,920 50.98% 68,189 49.02%
Kastamonu 147,530 64.82% 80,078 35.18%
Kayseri 557,397 67.76% 265,239 32.24%
Kilis 44,461 64.09% 24,912 35.91%
Kırıkkale 103,784 62.42% 62,478 37.58%
Kırklareli 68,552 26.87% 170,574 71.33%
Kırşehir 72,363 53.25% 63,520 46.75%
Kocaeli 650,336 56.69% 496,925 43.31%
Konya 928,602 72.88% 345,610 27.12%
Kütahya 261,275 70.31% 110,314 29.69%
Malatya 323,638 69.57% 141,539 30.43%
Manisa 417,386 45.67% 496,622 54.33%
Mardin 149,733 40.98% 215,653 59.02%
Mersin 387,611 35.98% 689,748 64.02%
Muğla 184,507 30.70% 416,584 69.30%
Muş 87,314 50.56% 85,370 49.44%
Nevşehir 117,548 65.59% 61,663 34.41%
Niğde 118,141 59.80% 79,427 40.20%
Ordu 275,328 61.89% 169,544 38.11%
Osmaniye 169,918 57.84% 123,860 42.16%
Rize 155,028 75.55% 50,158 24.45%
Sakarya 413,078 68.06% 193,897 31.94%
Samsun 507,303 63.55% 290,932 36.45%
Şanlıurfa 599,073 70.82% 246,835 29.18%
Siirt 69,121 47.81% 74,365 52.19%
Sinop 73,324 57.75% 53,651 42.25%
Şırnak 58,607 28.30% 148,482 71.70%
Sivas 262,404 71.28% 105,730 28.72%
Tekirdağ 242,247 38.91% 380,348 61.09%
Tokat 226,835 63.18% 132,188 36.82%
Trabzon 316,308 66.45% 159,681 33.55%
Tunceli 9,859 19.59% 40,478 80.41%
Uşak 109,263 47.03% 123,053 52.97%
Van 193,584 42.72% 259,575 57.28%
Yalova 71,929 49.73% 72,708 50.27%
Yozgat 179,911 74.27% 62,338 25.73%
Zonguldak 186,197 49.35% 191,117 50.65%
Nationwide results 58,366,647 49,799,163 48,934,116 865,047 25,157,025 51.41% 23,777,091 48.59% 85.32%

Overseas results[edit source]

Country Registered voters People voted Valid votes Invalid votes Yes Yes (%) No No (%) Turnout (%)
Albania 153 41.80% 213 58.20%
Algeria 356 43.00% 472 57.00%
Australia 5,960 41.82% 8,290 58.18%
Austria 38,215 73.23% 13,972 26.77%
Azerbaijan 1,024 38.31% 1,649 61.69%
Bahrain 69 13.56% 440 86.44%
Belgium 54,083 74.98% 18,044 25.02%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 750 61.83% 463 38.17%
Bulgaria 365 28.65% 909 71.35%
Canada 3,247 27.92% 8,384 72.08%
China 213 23.77% 683 76.23%
Czech Republic 73 12.54% 509 87.46%
Denmark 6,604 60.63% 4,288 39.37%
Egypt 259 59.00% 180 41.00%
Finland 558 28.45% 1,403 71.55%
France 91,266 64.85% 49,475 35.15%
Georgia 285 40.66% 416 59.34%
Germany 412,149 63.07% 241,353 36.93%
Greece 176 22.62% 602 77.38%
Hungary 232 25.75% 669 74.25%
Iran 121 45.32% 146 54.68%
Iraq 119 34.59% 225 65.41%
Ireland 173 19.93% 695 80.07%
Israel 284 43.43% 370 56.57%
Italy 2,135 37.94% 3,492 62.06%
Japan 416 36.11% 736 63.89%
Jordan 349 75.87% 111 24.13%
Kazakhstan 636 41.41% 900 58.59%
Kosovo 404 57.14% 303 42.86%
Kuwait 191 23.38% 626 76.62%
Kyrgyzstan 499 57.36% 371 42.64%
Lebanon 1,058 93.88% 69 6.12%
Luxembourg 5,987 62.86% 3,538 37.14%
Macedonia 618 57.97% 448 42.03%
Netherlands 82,672 70.94% 33,871 29.06%
New Zealand 32 17.68% 149 82.32%
Northern Cyprus 19,225 45.18% 23,324 54.82%
Norway 2,193 57.20% 1,641 42.80%
Oman 138 24.04% 436 75.96%
Poland 302 25.61% 877 74.39%
Qatar 241 18.89% 1,035 81.11%
Romania 824 44.64% 1,022 55.36%
Russia 833 26.02% 2,368 73.98%
Saudi Arabia 4,475 55.06% 3,653 44.94%
Singapore 284 44.31% 357 55.69%
South Africa 126 36.84% 216 63.16%
Spain 172 13.32% 1,119 86.68%
Sudan 240 65.93% 124 34.07%
Sweden 4,367 47.09% 4,902 52.91%
Switzerland 19,181 38.08% 31,193 61.92%
Thailand 27 12.92% 182 87.02%
Turkmenistan 510 43.74% 656 56.26%
Ukraine 341 35.74 613 64.26%
United Arab Emirates 395 13.31% 2,572 86.69%
United Kingdom 7,177 20.26% 28,247 79.79%
United States 5,296 16.20% 27,397 83.80%
Uzbekistan 169 53.65% 146 46.35%
Border Gates 52,961 54.17% 44,816 45.83%
Overseas results 831,208 59.09% 575,365 40.91%

Reactions[edit source]

Sovereign states[edit source]

  •  United States – President Donald Trump called his Turkish counterpart to congratulate him on the victory.[202]
  •  Russia – President Vladimir Putin called the Turkish President to extend congratulations on behalf of the Russian people.[203]
  •  China – Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Liu Yandong, who was visiting Turkey at the time of the referendum, congratulated Erdogan and the Turkish people on the victory.[204]
  •  Iran – Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, extended congratulations to his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.[205]
  •  Pakistan – President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also congratulated Turkish people on the victory.[206]
  •  Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia’s cabinet congratulated Erdogan and the Turkish people on the successful referendum of constitutional amendments.[207]
  •  Azerbaijan – President Ilham Aliyev was the first international leader to call the Turkish President, saying that the result demonstrated “the Turkish people’s great support” for Erdogan’s policy.[208]
  •  Qatar – Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani also congratulated the Turkish President on victory.[209]
  •  Palestinian Authority – President Mahmoud Abbas extended congratulations to the Turkish President.[209]
  •  Iraq – Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi sent a message to congratulate the Turkish President.[209]
  •  GermanyAngela Merkel said the tight referendum result showed that Turkey is divided and reports over irregularities should be taken seriously.[210] Peter Altmaier, Merkel’s chief of staff, said that Germany “respects a result that came about in a free and democratic vote”.[211]
  •  France – President Hollande stated that the Turkish people have the right to decide how to organize political institutions, but the referendum results show that Turkey is divided about the reforms.[210]
  •  Austria – Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said the result was a clear signal against the European Union and the fiction of Turkey’s bid to join the bloc must be ended.[citation needed]
  •  Nigeria – President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the people and government of Turkey on the successful conclusion of the country’s referendum.
  •  Kazakhstan – President Nursultan Nazarbayev sent a telegram of congratulations to Erdoğan.
  •  Georgia – Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili congratulated Turkey on the referendum results and remarked that Turkey’s stable development was important to Georgia.
  •  Cyprus – Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said that Cyprus hopes Turkey’s stance will move the peace talks forward toward the stated goal of reunifying the island as a federation.
  •  Belarus – President Alexander Lukashenko congratulated Turkey on the successful referendum.

Regional organisations[edit source]

  •  European Union – The Spokesman for European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, expressed concerns over allegations of irregularities in the referendum and called on Turkish civil authorities to launch transparent investigations into the claims.[212]

See also

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Peoples’ Democratic 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Peoples’ Democratic Party
Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi
Chairman Selahattin Demirtaş
Chairwoman Figen Yüksekdağ
Honorary Presidents Ertuğrul Kürkçü
Sebahat Tuncel
Founded August 12, 2012; 3 years ago
Headquarters Adakale Sok. 23/3 KızılayÇankaya, Ankara, Turkey
Membership  (2014) 11,942[1]
Ideology Democratic socialism
Egalitarianism
Political pluralism[2]

Political position Left-wing[13]
National affiliation Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK)
International affiliation None
European affiliation Party of European Socialists(associate member)[14]
Colours      Purple
Parliament:
59 / 550

Metropolitan municipalities:
0 / 30

District municipalities:
0 / 1,351

Municipal councillors:
9 / 20,458

Provincial councillors:
1 / 1,251

Website
www.hdp.org.tr
Politics of Turkey
Political parties
Elections

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP),Kurdish: Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan[15]) is a left-wing political party in Turkey. It was founded in 2012 as the political wing of the Peoples’ Democratic Congress, a union of numerous left-wing movements that had previously fielded candidates as independents to bypass the 10% election threshold. The party operates a co-presidential system of leadership, with one chairman and one chairwoman. As of 22 June 2014, these chairpersons are Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ respectively. It is in alliance with the KurdishDemocratic Regions Party (DBP), often described as the HDP’s fraternal party.

As a democratic socialist and anti-capitalist party, the HDP aspires to fundamentally challenge the existing Turkish-Kurdish divide and other existing parameters in Turkish politics. The party’s programme places a strong emphasis on environmentalism, minority rights and egalitarianism. When fielding candidates, the party employs a 10% quota for the LGBT community and a 50% quota for women. Despite the HDP’s claims that it represents the whole of Turkey, critics have accused the party of mainly representing the interests of the Kurdish minority in south-eastern Turkey, where the party polls the highest. From 2013 to 2015, the HDP participated in peace negotiationswith the Turkish government on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) separatist militant organisation, with which it is accused of having direct links.

The party put forward its chairman, Selahattin Demirtaş, as its candidate for the 2014 presidential election, where he won 9.77% of the vote. In the June 2015 general election, the HDP put forward party-lists instead of running independent candidates despite concerns that it could fall short of the 10%election threshold. The party exceeded expectations by polling 13.12% of the vote, won 80 MPs and is currently the third largest political group inParliament. The party briefly participated in the interim election governmentformed by AKP Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on 28 August 2015, with HDP MPs Ali Haydar Konca and Müslüm Doğan becoming the Minister of European Union Affairs and the Minister of Development respectively.

Overview[edit]

The HDP is a democratic socialist party that adheres to anti-capitalism and claims to aspire to end religious, gender and racial discrimination. The party has a 50% quota for women and a 10% quota for the LGBT community when fielding candidates. The party is also environmentalist, opposing the introduction of nuclear power in Turkey and also speaking out strongly in favour of the Gezi Park protests in 2013 that began as an environmentalist demonstration. It is said to resonate with liberal, middle-class Turks.[16] Despite their anti-nationalist stance, the party has been perceived by some to be aKurdish nationalist party due to their affiliation with the Democratic Regions Party and their support for minority rights. While the HDP maintains that the party looks beyond the traditional ‘Turkish or Kurdish’ dichotomy, it has openly participated in talks with imprisoned PKK rebel organisation leader Abdullah Öcalan.[17] The party has been accused of maintaining direct links with the PKK and the Kurdish confederalist KCK.[18][19]

The HDP first participated in the 2014 local elections, where it ran in most provinces in western Turkey while the DBP ran in the Kurdish south-east. The two parties combined gained 6.2% of the total votes but HDP failed to win any municipalities. Selahattin Demirtaş was the party’s candidate for the 2014 presidential election, where he won 9.77% of the vote with support mostly coming from south-eastern Turkey. The 21 MPs from the Peace and Democracy Party, the predecessor of the DBP, joined the HDP on 28 August 2014.[20] For the June 2015 general election, the HDP took the decision to field candidates as a party despite the danger of potentially falling below the 10% threshold. Even though most of the politicians from HDP are secular left-wing Kurds, the candidate list included devout Muslims, socialists, Alevis, Armenians, Assyrians,Azerbaijanis, Circassians, Lazi, Romanis and LGBT activists. Of the 550 candidates, 268 were women.[21][22][23] In 2015,Bariş Sulu was the first openly gay parliamentary candidate in Turkey as a candidate of the HDP.[24]

Development[edit]

Peoples’ Democratic Congress[edit]

HDP members giving a press conference, 12 November 2014

The Peoples’ Democratic Party originates from the Peoples’ Democratic Congress (Halkların Demokratik Kongresi, HDK), a platform composed of various groups including left wing parties Revolutionary Socialist Workers’ Party, Labour Party,Socialist Party of the Oppressed, Socialist Democracy Party, Socialist Party of Refoundation, the Greens and the Left Party of the Future, the Peace and Democracy Party, some far-left factions, feminist groups, LGBT groups, trade unions and ethnic initiatives representing Alevis, Armenians, and Pomaks.[25] In the2011 general election, the HDK fielded 61 independent candidates in order to bypass the 10% parliamentary threshold under the ‘Labour, Democracy and Freedom Block’. 36 members were elected, though the election of Hatip Dicle was later annulled by the Supreme Electoral Council and this number subsequently fell to 35.

Fatma Gök, one of the HDP’s founding chairpersons, described the HDK as a means of providing political hope to citizens and also as a way of intervening in theTurkish political system. The HDK operated by organising conferences and congresses, establishing the HDP as a means of fulfilling their political goals and establishing a means of having political influence.

Founding principles[edit]

The formal application of the HDK for political party status was delivered to theMinistry of the Interior on 15 October 2012. One of the party’s chairpersons, Yavuz Önen, claimed that the party would be the political wing of the HDK and not a replacement for it.[26][27]

The HDP was described by its founding chairpersons as a party that aims to eliminate the exploitation of labour and to fundamentally re-establish a democracy in which honourable and humanitarian individuals can live together as equal citizens.[26] It was further described as a party aiming to bring about fundamental change to the existing Capitalist system though uniting a wide range of left-wing opposition movements. Gök claimed that any political movement with similar aims to the HDK that had not merged with the party was more than welcome to do so. However, Önen claimed that the HDP would be entering elections as an individual party and not as part of a wider electoral alliance, adding that the party is itself formed of a wide coalition of political forces in the first place.[28]

Concerns were raised that the inclusion of the Kurdish nationalist HDK member Peace and Democracy Party in the HDP would raise allegations that the HDP was also a mainly Kurdish orientated party. However, Önen claimed that the HDP’s key goal was to establish a different perspective of viewing the Turkish political scene and moving away from the existing ‘Kurdish versus Turkish’ dichotomy that had become institutionally entrenched within Turkish political perceptions.[10] Three outstanding parliamentarians of the Peace and Democracy Party, Sebahat Tuncel, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, and Ertuğrul Kürkçü abdicated in October 2013 to join the HDP. Levent Tüzel, former Labour Party chairman and independent member of parliament also joined the three to form a caucus.[29]

Split with the Labour Party (EMEP)[edit]

Labour Party founder Abdullah Levent Tüzel joined the HDP parliamentary caucus despite party’s split with the HDP

The Labour Party (EMEP) had been a member of the Peoples’ Democratic Congress and had participated in the establishment of the HDP in 2012. However, the EMEP released a statement on 17 June 2014, announcing a split with the HDP.[30] The split was attributed to the restructuring of the Kurdish nationalist Peace and Democracy Party into a local-only party under the new name Democratic Regions Party (DBP), while the BDP’s parliamentary caucus would be integrated into the HDP. This would, in turn, require the HDP’s constitution to be altered in order to ensure greater compliance and conformity with the ideology of the BDP. This caused the EMEP to formally announce their secession from the HDP, but stated that they would continue their participation with the HDK. Despite the split, the Labour Party endorsed the HDP presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş for the 2014 presidential election and also announced that they would not be running in the June 2015 general election.[31][32]

Ideology[edit]

HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaşvisiting an Art gallery of the Contemporary Journalism Foundation (Çağdaş Gazeteciler Derneği), 17 March 2015

HDP MPs protesting the Domestic Security Bill in Parliament, 25 February 2015

The HDP is seen as the Turkish variant of the Greek SYRIZA and the SpanishPodemos parties, similar in their anti-capitalist stance. The founders of the HDP, Yavuz Önen and Fatma Gök, both emphasised the HDP’s fundamental principle of rejecting capitalism and labour exploitation for the benefit of all Turkish citizens regardless of race, gender or religion. The party in this sense is therefore secular, though has refrained from endorsing the secularism enshrined in the principles ofMustafa Kemal Atatürk.[citation needed] The HDP has also called for a new constitution that enshrines minority rights for Kurds, Alevis and other minorities.[33]

The traditional ‘Turkish or Kurdish’ dichotomy in Turkish politics arose mainly from the series of Kurdish nationalist political parties and their relations to militant organisations such as the PKK since 1990. This began with the People’s Labor Party and continued with the Democracy Party in 1993, the People’s Democracy Party in 1994, the Democratic People’s Party in 1997, the Democratic Society Partyin 2005, the Peace and Democracy Party in 2008 and finally the Democratic Regions Party in 2014. Most of these parties were closed down for violating the constitution by advocating the establishment of an independent Kurdistan on Turkish soil. While the HDP is also affiliated with the Peace and Democracy Party and the Democratic Regions Party, it aims to establish a new perspective that overcomes the traditional Turkish versus Kurdish divide. The HDP instead aims to collectively represent people of all ethnic or religious backgrounds and to safeguard their civil liberties by bringing about direct democracy and an end to capitalist exploitation. The party has long advocated the establishment of local ‘people’s parliaments’ to increase democratic representation and decentralisation of power. Much of the party’s attempts to unite citizens throughout Turkey is through the opposition to the governing conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP), which the HDP has accused of being authoritarian, exploitative and discriminatory against religious minorities.[34] The HDP’s foreign policy also involves opening the border with Armenia, which has been closed since the 1990s due to Turkey’s attempts to weaken Armenia economically in the Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Concerns have been raised whether the HDP respects or supports the unity of the Turkish Republic, especially due to its underground connections with separatist rebel organisations such as the PKK. During a conference in Selahattin Demirtaş’s presidential election campaign, the HDP caused controversy by not displaying any Turkish flags. In response, Demirtaş maintained that the HDP respected the flag, stating that the flag represented all citizens of Turkey.[35]

Relations with the PKK and KCK[edit]

Although the HDP has supported a peace process with Kurdish rebels and supported non-violent protest, it has been accused of maintaining links with militant organisations, most notably the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK).[36]

Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)[edit]

According to many sources and parties in Turkey, the HDP has direct relations with the PKK, which is a terrorist organisation according to the European Union, the United States and Turkey. Because of its close relations with the Kurdish nationalist Democratic Regions Party, the HDP has been accused on numerous occasions of being influenced by and openly endorsing the PKK. During its 2nd Extraordinary Congress, HDP supporters came dressed as PKK guerrillas, with many members during the congress holding banners picturing the PKK’s imprisoned founder Abdullah Öcalan. A message by Öcalan was read out in the Congress, which was also attended by Abdullah Öcalan’s brother Mehmet Öcalan.[37]

The AKP İstanbul MP Hüseyin Yayman claimed that despite Öcalan’s calls for peace, the PKK were not interested in peace but wanted to secure a geographical region to govern—although it was not at all clear why the second goal would be in contradiction with the first. He claimed that the PKK and the HDP subsequently formed a joint venture to disrupt the solution process as much as possible, accusing the HDP of never calling for the PKK to lay down arms. For his part, Yayman had never demanded that the Turkish army lay down its arms in advance of any ceasefire or peace agreement with the PKK. He further claimed that during the October 2014 riots against the Siege of Kobanî, the HDP had marginalised anyone who wasn’t a member of the HDP or PKK.[38]
In the run-up to the 2015 general election, it was alleged that the PKK had influenced the HDP’s decision to stand as a party rather than as a group of independent candidates, in order to bypass the 10% election threshold. Dilek Öcalan, the niece of Abdullah Öcalan, was also made a HDP parliamentary candidate.[39] The relationship between the HDP and the PKK has been put forward by the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a reason why it would be better for the HDP to not gain representation in Parliament, though journalists alleged that this would result in greater violence by the PKK and attempts to establish a separate parliament in Diyarbakır.[40][41] In election posters and propaganda, the HDP has been accused scaremongering and using the PKK to coerce voters into voting for them, stating that the there would be more violence if the HDP failed to pass the election threshold.[42] In contrast, HDP politicians also accused the AKP of scaremongering when they claimed that their affiliation to the PKK made them unfit for parliamentary representation.[40][43]PKK militants have also been accused of raiding local shops and cafes in the south-east of Turkey and demanding votes for the HDP, with one civilian being wounded when a group of PKK youth militants raided a cafe in Silvan.[44][45] Selahattin Demirtaş has denied having an ‘organic relationship’ with the PKK and claimed that the allegations of PKK militants demanding votes for the HDP from voters was untrue.[46][47]

Kurdish peace process[edit]

Main article: Solution process

HDP and AKP delegates during negotiations for the Solution process, 1 March 2015

HDP delegates visiting Kobanî, 27 January 2015

The Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) government began a peace process with the PKK in 2013, consisting of a withdrawal of militants from Turkish soil and negotiations towards the normalisation following nearly 30 years of armed conflict between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish Armed Forces. As a strong advocate of minority rights, the HDP was involved in negotiations with both the government and also the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan on İmralı Island.

Relations with the Justice and Development Party[edit]

Despite being a left-wing party, the HDP has been accused of negotiating with the conservative orientated right-wing Justice and Development Party (AKP) behind closed doors on issues mainly surrounding the Solution process to the Kurdish separatist militants. Critics of the government and the HDP alleged that such talks could lead to a potential coalition between the AKP and HDP in the event that the HDP enters parliament and the AKP does not win a majority. Such a coalition could potentially deliver Kurdish nationalist demands to the south-east of Turkey while the HDP support the AKP’s long-time policy of introducing a presidential system in place of the existing parliamentary system.[48] In March, AKP Deputy Prime MinisterBülent Arınç claimed that the HDP would be their partners in the solution process and expressed his wish to work in harmony, though also accused some HDP MPs of not working towards lasting peace with sincerity.[49] In contrast, government minister Bekir Bozdağ accused the HDP of being part of an ‘international project’ intending to destabilise the government of Turkey.[50] Relations seemed to sour in early April, where the HDP accused the AKP of staging a pre-planned attack against PKK members in the province of Ağrıaimed at gathering more votes in the upcoming general election. In response, Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğanaccused Selahattin Demirtaş of acting like a PKK spokesman. In February 2015, HDP chairwoman Figen Yüksekdağ claimed that a joint statement regarding the solution process could be made with the AKP.[51] Delegations from the AKP and the HDP formally met in the Prime Minister’s office in Dolmabahçe Palace in April 2015.[52]

2014 Siege of Kobanî protests[edit]

Kurds protesting against Turkish government inaction following the ISISadvance into the Syrian Kurdish city ofKobanî.

The peace process was nearly disbanded after pro-Kurdish protests and riots broke out in south-eastern Turkey protesting the lack of government intervention against the advance of ISIL militants on the city of Kobanî in Syria, just south of the Turkish border. The HDP openly supported the protests, while calling for non-violence.[53][54]Protestors were met with tear gas and water cannon, leading to more than 40 deaths.[55] Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu heavily criticised the HDP for calling for more protests and responded by drafting a heavily controversial domestic security bill and calling for the HDP to prove itself to be a peaceful political party.[56]Nevertheless, the solution process continued despite the riots, with ISIL being completely ejected from Kobanî by April 2015.[57] HDP MP Altan Tan later claimed that his party had miscalculated the consequences of calling for more protests, although his statements were met with opposition from the confederalist KCK organisation.[58]

Historical leaders[edit]

The HDP operates a co-presidential system, whereby the party is chaired by one chairman and one chairwoman, elected during party congresses. Since its establishment in 2012, the party has had a total of six leaders, three men and three women.

Chairpersons[edit]

The following is a list of the current and previous chairpersons of the HDP, showing the names, birth and death dates where applicable and also the start and end dates of their leadership.

No. Chairman
(Born–Died)
Portrait Chairwoman
(Born–Died)
Portrait Term in Office
1 Yavuz Önen
(1938–)
No image.jpg Fatma Gök
(1948–)
No image.jpg 15 October 2012 27 October 2013
2 Ertuğrul Kürkçü
(1948–)
Ertuğrul Kürkçü (cropped).jpg Sebahat Tuncel
(1975–)
Sebahat Tuncel.jpg 27 October 2013 22 June 2014
3 Selahattin Demirtaş
(1973–)
Selahattin Demirtaş VOA (cropped).jpg Figen Yüksekdağ
(1971–)
Figen Yüksekdağ.jpg 22 June 2014 Incumbent

Honorary Presidents[edit]

On the HDP congress held on 22 June 2014, the outgoing chairpersons Ertuğrul Kürkçü and Sebahat Tuncel were declared the Honorary Presidents of the party. They are the first two co-presidents to serve in that capacity.

No. President (male)
(Born–Died)
Portrait President (female)
(Born–Died)
Portrait Term in Office
1 Ertuğrul Kürkçü
(1948–)
Ertuğrul Kürkçü (cropped).jpg Sebahat Tuncel
(1975–)
Sebahat Tuncel.jpg 22 June 2014 Incumbent

Party congresses[edit]

Former HDP chairwoman Sebahat Tuncel and members Abdullah Levent Tüzel and Sırrı Süreyya Önder during a protest

The party has held several ordinary congresses throughout different cities, mostly focussing on provinces in south-eastern Turkey. So far, the party has had two nationwide extraordinary congresses, held in 2013 and 2014, where elections were held to select the chairpersons of the party.

1st Extraordinary congress, 2013[edit]

The party’s 1st extraordinary congress was held in the Ahmet Taner Kışlalı Stadium in Ankara on 27 October 2013. The HDP Executive Board and the Congressional Preparation Council both recommended Ertuğrul Kürkçü and Sebahat Tuncel for the positions of chairman and chairwoman respectively, after which both formally assumed their positions. The congress focussed mainly in voicing support for theGezi Park protests. A message from imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, emphasising the party’s support for a decentralisation of power and for the establishment of localised ‘people’s parliaments’, was also read out. 105 sitting and 25 reserve members were elected to the Party Council.[59]

2nd Extraordinary congress, 2014[edit]

The party’s 2nd extraordinary congress was again held in the Ahmet Taner Kışlalı Stadium on 22 June 2014. 156 delegates were eligible to cast votes to elect the new chairman and chairwoman. Since a majority could not be secured in the first two rounds of voting, the leadership election proceeded into a third round where Selahattin Demirtaş was elected as the chairman and Figen Yüksekdağ was elected as the chairwoman of the party. Speeches by the elected leaders mainly centred on the corruption within the Turkish government and also opposition to the established political system.[60] 100 sitting and 50 reserve members for the Party Council were elected. Outgoing chairpersons Ertuğrul Kürkçü and Sebahat Tuncel were declared Honorary Presidents of the party.[61]

Electoral performance[edit]

Formed in 2012, the HDP has only since contested one local, one presidential and one general election. A summary of the results and number of candidates elected is shown below.

Local elections[edit]

Local elections
Election date Party leaders Combined votes
of all four elections
Percentage Municipalities Councillors
Metropolitan District Municipal Provincial
2014 Selahattin Demirtaş
Figen Yüksekdağ
5,149,206 4.01
0 / 30

0 / 1,351

9 / 20,458

1 / 1,251

2014 local elections[edit]

Results obtained by the BDP and HDP by Province in the 2014 local elections

At the 2014 municipal elections, HDP ran parallel to BDP, with the BDP running in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast while the HDP competed in the rest of the country[62] except Mersin Province and Konya Province where BDP launched its own candidates.[63]

After the local elections, the two parties were re-organised in a joint structure. On 28 April 2014, the entire parliamentary caucus of BDP joined HDP, whereas BDP (itself re-organised as the Democratic Regions Party by July) was assigned exclusively to representatives on the local administration level.[64][65]

Presidential elections[edit]

Presidential elections
Election date Candidate Votes Percentage Position
2014 Selahattin Demirtaş 3,958,048 9.77 3rd

2014 presidential election[edit]

Selahattin Demirtaş‘s election campaign logo

Selahattin Demirtaş campaign poster

Votes obtained by Demirtaş throughout the 81 Provinces of Turkey

Selahattin Demirtaş was announced as the HDP’s candidate for the Presidency on 30 June. In a campaign dominated by the Solution process with Kurdish rebels, he claimed on 5 August in Van that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had not done enough to bring forward promised legislation, and that the process would collapse immediately if the AKP did not do more to bring lasting peace in the southeast.[66]

On 15 July, Demirtaş outlined his road-map for his presidency should he win the election. In a speech lasting just under an hour, he proposed that the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) should be disbanded, that compulsory religion lessons in schools should be removed and that Cemevis (the Alevi houses of worship) should receive national recognition.[67] He also proposed the introduction of “People’s Parliaments” (Cumhur meclisleri), which would also incorporate Youth Parliaments to increase representation of young citizens.[68] Pushing for a new constitution, Demirtaş outlined the need to end the non-representation of different cultures, languages, races and beliefs without delay to ensure national stability.[69] Also in his speech, he praised the Gezi Park protests and displayed photos of himself during the events. He continued to direct applause to the mother of the murdered teenagerBerkin Elvan, who died 269 days after being hit by a tear gas canister during the protests and falling into a coma.[70] On the issue of the lack of Turkish flags within the hall in which he was delivering his speech, Demirtaş stated that the Turkish flag represented all citizens of Turkey.[71] His slogan is “Bir Cumhurbaşkanı Düşün” (Imagine a President…), which is followed by several different phrases, such as “Bir Cumhurbaşkanı Düşünün Ayrımcılık yapmıyor. Birleştiriyor, barıştırıyor.” (Imagine a President who doesn’t Discriminate, who Unites and makes Peace) or “Bir Cumhurbaşkanı Düşünün Herkese Demokrat” (Imagine a President who is Democratic to Everybody).[67] Most of the votes that were cast for Demirtaş were from the Kurdish south-east.

General elections[edit]

General elections
Election Year Map Leaders Votes MPs Placed Position
#  % swing # ±
June 2015 Hdp2015secim.png Figen Yüksekdağ Selahattin Demirtaş.jpg


Selahattin Demirtaş
Figen Yüksekdağ

6,058,489
13.12%
Increase13.12%
80 / 550

Increase80 4th Interim election government

June 2015 general election[edit]

The HDP presenting their candidate lists to the Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey, 7 April 2015.

A HDP election stand in Germany, 3 May 2015

Emboldened by the 9.77% of the vote won by HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş in the 2014 presidential election the HDP contested the election by fielding party candidates rather than independent candidates. This was controversial since most of the HDP’s votes would be transferred to the AKP in the event that the HDP failed to win above 10% of the vote. There was speculation as to whether the AKP forced Öcalan to pressure the HDP to contest the election as a party in order to boost their own number of MPs.[72] The party charged a ₺2,000 application fee for prospective male candidates, a ₺1,000 fee for female and young candidates under the age of 27 and no fee was collected from disabled applicants. Applications for candidacy were received between 16 February and 2 March.[73]

According to a private poll conducted by the HDP in January 2015, the party needed to gather around 600,000 more supporters by the general election in order to surpass the election threshold of 10% and win 72 MPs.[74][75] Polling organisations such as Metropoll, however, predicted that the party would win around 55 MPs if they won more than 10%.[76] HDP candidates hoped that the victory of the left-wing SYRIZA in the January 2015 Greek legislative election in January would result in a boost in popularity.[77]

In order to maximise their votes, the party’s co-leader Figen Yüksekdağ announced that the HDP would begin negotiations with the United June Movement, a socialist intellectual and political platform that includes left-wing parties such as the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) and the Labour Party (EMEP). Negotiations between parties began taking place in early 2015, with the intention of forming a broad alliance rather than a strict political coalition. Although Yüksekdağ ruled out negotiating with the CHP since they were ‘closed to dialogue’ and Demirtaş was opposed to negotiations, CHP deputy leader Sezgin Tanrıkulu said that the CHP was open for talks and that the two parties had until 7 April to come to an agreement.[78]

Provinces in Turkey with a Kurdish-majority population.

HDP rallied more than expected and gained 13.12% of the total votes cast (6,280,302 out of 46,774,793), breaking the 10% threshold, the minimum set for any Turkish political party to have its representatives sit in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM), and securing 81 seats. The HDP carried victories in 14 out of 85 electoral districts in Turkey: Ardahan, Kars, Iğdır, Ağrı Province, Muş,Bitlis, Van, Turkey, Hakkâri, Şırnak, Siirt, Batman, Mardin, Diyarbakır and Tunceli. These electoral districts are mostly Kurdish-majority provinces. In this election, however, the HDP departed from its traditional Kurdish issues-focused role and embraced other minority ethnic and religious groups in Turkey, women’s issues, LGBT and left-wing activists and political groups under its wing, promoting its appeal to a national level and drawing a wider pool of support from all over Turkey. This resulted the HDP to be not only the 4th largest political party in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey but also a formidable force in gaining the Turkish overseas votes, ranking 2nd after the AKP with 20.41% and carrying Japan, Ukraine, Greece, Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Canada and the U.K. The HDP also derailed the AKP from being the majority party, forming a single-party government and reaching 330 seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the necessary number to enact a referendum necessary to change the constitution so that Turkey would abandon its traditional parliamentary government and instead adopt an American-style executive presidency government. This is hailed by Turkey’s opposition parties and their supporters as the biggest contribution the HDP made to the Republic of Turkey.

Parliamentary politicians[edit]

  1. Meral Danış Beştaş
  2. Rıdvan Turan
  3. Behçet Yıldırım
  4. Mehmet Emin İlhan
  5. Berdan Öztürk
  6. Dirayet Taşdemir
  7. Leyla Zana
  8. Sırrı Süreyya Önder
  9. Hakkı Saruhan Oluç (tr)
  10. Taşkın AKTAŞ
  11. Ayşe ACAR BAŞAgRAN
  12. Ali Atalan
  13. Saadet BECEREKLİ
  14. Hişyar ÖZSOY
  15. Mahmut Celadet GAYDALI
  16. Mizgin IRGAT
  17. Asiye KOLÇAK
  18. Nursel Aydoğan
  19. İdris Baluken (tr)
  20. Edib BERK
  21. Çağlar DEMİREL
  22. Nimettullah ERDOĞMUŞ
  23. Ziya PİR
  24. Altan Tan (ku)
  25. İmam Taşçıer (tr)
  26. Feleknas Uca
  27. Sibel YİĞİTALP
  28. Seher Akçınar Bayar (tr)
  29. Celal Doğan (tr)
  30. Mahmut TOĞRUL
  31. Nihat AKDOĞAN
  32. Selma Irmak
  33. Abdullah ZEYDAN
  34. Mehmet Emin ADIYAMAN
  35. Kıznaz Türkeli
  36. Erdal ATAŞ
  37. Pervin Buldan
  38. Selahattin Demirtaş
  39. Hüda Kaya (tr)
  40. Ali KENANOĞLU
  41. Filiz KERESTECİOĞLU
  42. Turgut Öker (de)
  43. Garo Paylan (de)
  44. Sezai TEMELLİ
  45. Abdullah Levent Tüzel
  46. Emine Beyza ÜSTÜN
  47. Müslüm Doğan
  48. Ertuğrul Kürkçü
  49. Ayhan Bilgen (tr)
  50. Şafak ÖZANLİ
  51. Ali Haydar Konca
  52. Mehmet Ali Aslan
  53. Erol Dora (fr)
  54. Enise GÜNEYLİ
  55. Mithat Sancar (tr)
  56. Gülser Yıldırım (tr)
  57. Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat
  58. Çilem ÖZ
  59. Burcu ÇELİK ÖZKAN
  60. Ahmet YILDIRIM
  61. Hatice SEVİPTEKİN
  62. Kadri YILDIRIM
  63. İbrahim Ayhan
  64. Osman Baydemir
  65. Ziya ÇALIŞKAN
  66. Leyla Güven
  67. Dilek Öcalan
  68. Leyla BİRLİK
  69. Ferhat ENCU
  70. Aycan İRMEZ
  71. Faysal Sarıyıldız (tr)
  72. Alican Önlü (tr)
  73. Edibe Şahin
  74. Lezgin BOTAN
  75. Tuğba HEZER ÖZTÜRK
  76. Adem ÖZCANER
  77. Remzi ÖZGÖKÇE
  78. Yurdusev Özsökmenler
  79. Selami ÖZYAŞAR
  80. Figen Yüksekdağ