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
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]
Turkish constitutional referendum
Sunday, 16 April 2017
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.


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.
  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
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]


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]


‘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

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]

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
Registered voters
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

Republican People’s

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Republican People’s Party
Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi
Abbreviation CHP
President Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
Secretary-General Gürsel Tekin
Spokesperson Haluk Koç
Founder and “Eternal Chief” Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Slogan Önce Türkiye
(Turkey First)
  • September 7, 1919 (as a resistance organisation)
  • September 9, 1923 (as a political party)
  • September 9, 1992(reestablishing)
Preceded by Association for the Defense of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia
Student wing Halk-Lis (high school)
Youth wing CHP Youth
Women’s wing CHP Kadın Kolları
Membership  (2014) 1,083,353[1]
Political position Centre-left
International affiliation
European affiliation Party of European Socialists (associate)
Colors      Red
134 / 550


Metropolitan municipalities:
6 / 30

District municipalities:
226 / 1,351

Provincial councillors:
159 / 1,251

Party flag
Flag of the Republican People's Party
Six Arrows (Altı Ok)
Politics of Turkey
Political parties

The Republican People’s Party (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP) is aKemalist and social-democratic political party in Turkey. It is the oldest political party of the Republic of Turkey and is currently the Main Opposition in theGrand National Assembly. The Republican People’s Party describes itself as “a modern social-democratic party, which is faithful to the founding principles and values of the Republic of Turkey“.[6] Also the party is cited as “the founding party of modern Turkey”.[7]

The party was established during the Congress of Sivas (1919) as a union of resistance groups against the invasion of Anatolia. The union representedTurkish people as a unified front during the Turkish War of Independence(1919–1923). On 9 September 1923, the “People’s Party” officially declared itself as a political organization and on October 29, 1923, announced the establishment of the Turkish Republic. On 10 November 1924, the People’s Party renamed itself to “Republican People’s Party” (CHP) as Turkey was moving into a single-party period.

During the single-party period, the CHP became the major political organisation of a single-party state. However, CHP faced two opposition parties during this period, both established upon the request of the founder of Turkey and CHP leader, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in efforts to jump-start multiparty democracy in Turkey. The first one was the Progressive Republican Party established in 1924 by some famous generals such as Kazım Karabekirand Ali Fuat Cebesoy of the Turkish War of Independence and the second one was the Liberal Republican Party founded by Ali Fethi Okyar in 1930, both of which, however, were banned within a few months of their establishment by the state for veering too closely to Islamism. This experience was followed by the National Development Party founded by Nuri Demirağ, in 1945.

The current (or modern) structure of the party was established with the transition to multi-party period. After World War II, with the title Millî Şef(“National Chief”), İsmet İnönü, leader of the CHP, introduced democraticelections to Turkish society. Due to widespread dissatisfaction with the CHP in the four years after its victory in the first multi-party general election in 1946, the party lost the second multi-party general elections in 1950, and Celâl Bayar replaced İnönü as President.

During the interim “multi-party periods” in between the military coups of 1960, 1971, and 1980, CHP is regarded as being social-democratic (member of theSocialist International),[8] state nationalistic and secular/laicist. The party’s logo consists of the Six Arrows, which represent the foundational principles ofKemalism: republicanism, nationalism, statism, populism, laïcité, andrevolutionism.

The CHP, along with all other political parties of the time, was closed down for a brief period by the military coup of 1980. An inheritor party which still participates in Turkish democratic life, was established in 1984, as theDemocratic Left Party by the former leader of CHP, Bülent Ecevit. CHP was finally reestablished with its original name on 9 September 1992, with the participation of a majority of its previous members of the pre-1980 period.

Current position[edit]

Party’s performance at the 2007 general election by constituency.

The Republican People’s Party is currently a centre-left political party with traditional ties to the middle and upper-middle classes such as white-collar workers, retired generals, government bureaucrats, academics, college students, left-leaning intellectuals and labor unions such as DİSK, and well-to-do entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, the loose relationship between CHP and some trade unions, business chambers and most non-governmental organisations alienated many voters. The distance between the party administration and many leftist grassroots, especially left oriented Kurdish voters, contributed to the party’s shift away from the political left.

Despite heavy criticism from liberal and libertarian socialist interest groups,[by whom?] CHP still holds a significant position in the Socialist International as well as being an associate member of the Party of European Socialists. CHP urged the Socialist International to accept Republican Turkish Party of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as an observer member.

At the 2007 general election CHP ran in alliance with Democratic Left Party. CHP suffered a heavy defeat, getting 7,300,234 votes (20.85% of the total). CHP, YTP, and DSP combined got 21.77% of the votes in the 2002. The party finished first only in three provinces in Thrace (Edirne, Tekirdağ, Kırklareli) and two provinces on the Aegean coast (İzmir,Muğla). With these results, 112 candidates (13 of these MPs are DSP affiliates) were elected to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey from the CHP electoral sheet compared to 178 in 2002.

CHP increased its vote share from 20.9% to 23.1% in the 2009 municipal elections. The party gained considerable ground by winning Antalya, Giresun, Zonguldak, Sinop, Tekirdag, and Aydin despite losing Trabzon municipality. In 20 provinces of Turkey, the party received less than 3% of the votes.[9]

At the general elections held on June 2011, CHP was able to increase the number and the percentage of voters to 11,155,972 & 25,98% respectively. At the 2014 Municipal Elections, however, CHP’s votes went down to 10,835,876. CHP-backed candidate, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, was able to get only 38.44% of the votes during the Presidential Elections five months later. The Republican People’s Party has not won overall against AKP in nine elections since 2002.


Atatürk period (1923–1938)[edit]

During the War of Independence, 1919–1922, the parliament in Ankara was composed by different types of deputies. To have a harmony among his followers, Mustafa Kemal and his colleagues formed Müdafaa-ı Hukuk grubu (the “group of Defence of the Law”). The opposition to Mustafa Kemal or to the commissars elected by the parliament united under the name of “second group of Defence of the Law”, often shortened simply to “second group” (the Mustafa Kemal followers were later called “first group”). Although the second group was always in the minority, it could create active opposition within the parliament. In January 1923, Mustafa Kemal Pasha announced that first group would be transformed to a Party named Halk Fırkası (People’s Party). In May 1923, the parliament called a bill for new elections, most probably because Mustafa Kemal and his colleagues wanted to guarantee the peace treaty’s, held in Lausanne, approval by a more unanimous parliament. The People’s Party was officially founded only after the 1923 elections. The 1923 elections were definitely the victory of the forthcoming Party, because of the its leaders reputation after the military victory of the War of Independence and it was the liquidation of second group. Thanks to this unanimity of this second parliament, the republic was proclaimed, the Treaty of Lausanne was accepted and the Caliphate was abolished.

However, in 1924, after the short-period of a single-party rule, many of Mustafa Kemal’s ex-colleagues, for many reasons (their growing loss of power, their opposition to the short period of a single-party rule’s revolutionary activities, etc.), including Rauf Orbay, Kâzım Karabekir, Ali Fuat Cebesoy and many others founded an opposition party calledTerakkiperver Cumhuriyet Fırkası (Progressive Republican Party). After the foundation of an opposition party, the People’s Party changed its name to “Republican People’s Party”. The life of the Progressive Republicans Party was short. In 1925, the Sheikh Said rebellion was sparked in the east of Turkey. The party was shut down because of allegations of involvement with rebellion and assassination attempts against Mustafa Kemal. The party was closed on 5 June by the government. As a consequence, Karabekir and many members of the party were court-martialled and imprisoned. Karabekir was released after being found innocent. From 1925 until 1946, Turkey was under single-party rule, with one interruption; Serbest Fırka (Liberal Party) which was actually founded by Atatürk himself, and its leader was one of his closest friends, Ali Fethi Okyar. This party was closed down by its founders shortly after the İzmir meeting, which was a huge demonstration against the Republican People’s Party. In the period of 1925–1930, the Republican People’s Party introduced measures transforming Turkey into a modern state. In the period of 1930–1939, the party transformed itself and tried to broaden its ideology (for instance, the ‘6 arrows’ were adopted in 1930).

The day after Atatürk’s death, İsmet İnönü was elected the second president and assumed the leadership of CHP. During the general nationwide congress of CHP on 26 December 1938, İsmet İnönü was elected as the “everlasting CHP leader”. The delegates awarded Atatürk the title “eternal chief”, and awarded İnönü the title “national chief”.

During the 1940s, CHP established the Village Institutes, which was an enlightenment project developed in order to reduce the huge gap that existed between urban and rural areas. Various scientists, writers, teachers, and doctors graduated from Village Institutes; and supported Turkey’s modernization efforts.

İnönü period, (1938–1972)[edit]

General elections were held in Turkey on 21 July 1946, the first multi-party elections in the country’s history. The result was a victory for the Republican People’s Party, which won 395 of the 465 seats.

On 26 November 1951, during the ninth Congress of CHP, the youth branch and the women’s branch of CHP were formed. On 22 June 1953, the establishment of trade unions and vocational chambers was proposed, and the right to strike for workers was added to the party program.

On 2 May 1954, CHP lost the elections to the Democratic Party, gaining only 31 seats with 35.4% of the total vote. The DP captured 505 seats with 57.6% vote, due to thewinner-take-all system. Following this defeat, the CHP began intensifying its oppositiontactics and increased its share of the votes to 41%, gaining 178 seats, in the 27 October 1957 elections. The DP gained 424 seats with 47.9% vote.

In the military coup of 1960, a “National Unity Committee” was formed by upper-class soldiers. The National Unity Committee abolished the Democratic Party and started trials to punish Democratic Party leaders for their alleged dictatorial regime. As a result, on 16/17 September 1961, ousted Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, Foreign Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu, and Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan were hanged inİmralı island prison. President Celal Bayar was forgiven due to his old age, but sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 1961, Justice Party (AP) was established, claiming to be the successor to the Democratic Party. In the meantime, the National Unity Committee established an interim House of Representatives instead of the TBMM, in order to prepare a new constitution for Turkey. In the new constitution, the Constitutional Court was to be established, to prevent the government from violating the constitution. The 1961 constitution is accepted to be the most liberal and democratic constitution in Turkish history. Also, the winner-take-all electoral system was immediately abolished, and a proportional representationsystem was introduced. The new constitution brought Turkey a bicameral parliament, composed of the Senate of the Republic as the upper chamber, and National Assembly as the lower chamber. The National Unity Committee chairman General Cemal Gürsel was elected as the fourth president of Turkey.

On 15 October 1961, CHP won the elections, gaining 173 seats with the 36.7% of the vote. AP gained 158 seats, with 34.8% of the vote. CHP leader İsmet İnönü formed the coalition with the Justice Party (AP) and became Prime Minister. This was the first coalition government in Turkey’s history. İnönü established two coalition governments until the 1965 elections.

Süleyman Demirel became prime minister in the late 1960s, and because he was the leader of the AP (Justice Party), he continued in the tradition of Adnan Menderes gaining a large amount of support from both the religious voters and democrats.

Ecevit period (1972–1980)[edit]

In 1971, the army brought down the AP government of Süleyman Demirel. The secretary general of CHP Bülent Ecevit protested against military intervention and resigned from his post. He also criticized İnönü for not criticizing the intervention. By his quick and energetic reactions, he gained support from the intellectuals and in 1972, he succeeded İsmet İnönü as the leader of the party. Following some interim governments, CHP won 1973 elections with 33% of the vote and formed a coalition withNational Salvation Party (MSP) of Necmettin Erbakan. Bülent Ecevit began to take on a distinct left wing role in politics and, although remaining staunchly nationalist, tried to implement socialism into the ideology of CHP. The support of party also increased after Turkish intervention to Cyprus following a coup which had been staged by the Cypriot National Guard led by Nikos Sampson.

CHP and MSP had however very diverged ideologies, especially on secularity and in 1975 a new coalition government led by Süleyman Demirel was formed by four parties. Nevertheless CHP was still the most popular party. CHP won 1977 elections with 41% of the vote, which is a record in CHP history. But CHP couldn’t gain the majority of seats and from 1977 to 1979, the CHP was the main party of two brief coalition governments. But in 1980, the AP returned with Demirel. The political switching between the CHP and the AP came to an end when the military performed a coup and banned all political parties.

Recovery period (1980–1992)[edit]

After the 1980 military coup, the name of “Republican People’s Party” and the abbreviation CHP were banned from use by the military regime. Until 1998, Turkey was ruled by the centre-right Motherland Party (ANAP) and the True Path Party(DYP), unofficial successors of the Democrat Party.

CHP followers also tried to establish parties. But they were not allowed to use the name CHP and were not allowed to elect the well known pre-1980 politicians to party posts. So they had to introduce new politicians.

The three parties of CHP followers were People’s Party (Turkish: Halkçı Party, HP) of Necdet Calp, Social Democracy Party(Turkish: Sosyal Demokrasi Partisi, SODEP) of Erdal İnönü and Democratic Left Party (Turkish: Democratit Sol Parti, DSP) of Rahşan Ecevit. These names were chosen to remind people of CHP. Necdet Calp was İsmet İnönü’s secretary when İnönü was prime minister. Erdal İnönü was İsmet İnönü’s son and Rahşan Ecevit was Bülent Ecevit’s wife.

The ban on pre-1980 politicians was lifted in 1987 and on pre-1980 parties was lifted in 1992. Both of these normalization steps were largely due to Erdal İnönü’s efforts. He also tried to unify the three parties; SODEP and HP merged in 1985 to form the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP), but DSP remained apart.

Baykal period (1992–2010)[edit]

CHP was re-established after the 1987 referendum and a legislation in 1993 which allowed the re-establishment of older parties.

In 1991, since Turkey’s election system had two large election thresholds (10% nationwide and 15% local thresholds) and since centre-left was divided into two parties (SHP and DSP), social democrats and democratic left groups had little power in the parliament. Between 1991 and 1995, Turkey was ruled by the coalition of centre-right DYP and center-left SHP (Social Democratic Populist Party) (later, the SHP joined CHP). The Islamists returned with a new party, Refah, while the nationalist MHP took advantage of the disillusionment felt by former supporters of the Refah Party and the constantly bickering ANAP and DYP.

In 1995, the Islamic Welfare Party (Refah Partisi) entered Parliament, and the CHP’s share of the vote dropped to 10% and it received only 49 of the 550 deputies. It now seemed as if the CHP had been replaced as the main left-wing party.

But the Welfare Party was banned in 1998, and during the 1990s the Democratic Left Party (DSP), led by former CHP leader Bülent Ecevit, gained popular support (the DSP was established by the Ecevit family in 1985). In 1998, after the resignation of RP-DYP coalition following the “February 28” post-modern and soft military coup, ANAP formed a coalition government with DSP and the small centre-right party DTP (Democratic Turkey Party), along with the support of CHP.

However, due to big scandals, corruption and some illegal actions of this coalition, CHP withdrew its support from the coalition and helped bring down the government with a “no confidence” vote. Just before the elections of 1999, DSP formed an interim minority government with the support of DYP and ANAP; and the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was captured inKenya during the Ecevit rule.

Therefore in the elections of 1999, CHP failed to pass the 10% threshold (8.7% vote), winning no seats in Parliament. Baykal resigned in 1999, Altan Öymen became the leader. But one year later, Baykal became the leader of the party again.

About a month after the general elections of 1999, a coalition government between DSP-MHP and ANAP was formed under the leadership of DSP. This government passed many important laws, including banking reform, unemployment insurance, a law to ensure the autonomy of the Central Bank, qualified industrial zones, tender law, employment incentive law, to name a few. The government also changed 34 articles of the Constitution to widen fundamental rights and freedoms, and did this with the approval of all the parties in Parliament. Turkey became a candidate country to the European Union(without any political preconditions and with equal treatment as all other candidate countries). Three major EU harmonisation packages were passed during this government, including the most comprehensive package of 3 August 2002, which included the removal of the death penalty and many changes in fundamental rights and freedoms. An economic crisis which resulted from long overdue problems from previous governments caused a drop in the currency in February 2001. But 2 months later, the government passed a series of very comprehensive economic reforms which enabled the high growth of 2002–2007.

Because DSP opposed the US invasion of Iraq, a campaign to divide the DSP and force a change of government in Turkey was started. When its coalition partner MHP called for early elections in the summer of 2002, it faced the electorate before the results of economic reforms could be felt. As a result, none of the coalition parties were able to pass the 10% national threshold.

In the 2002 Parliamentary elections, the CHP won 178 seats in Parliament, and only it and the AK Party (Justice and Development Party) entered Parliament. The CHP became the main opposition party again and Turkey’s second largest party. It had begun the long road to recovery.

It must be understood however, that this had very little to do with voters supporting CHP. Many were former DSP supporters who were angry at the economic crisis that many blamed on the Ecevit government. Also many DSP and ANAP supporters left these parties for AK Party as did many MHP and Fazilet (now Saadet party) members.

Many on the left are still very critical of the leadership of CHP especially Deniz Baykal, who they complain is stifling the party of young blood thus turning away the young who turn either to apathy or even to vote for AK Party. While AK Party boast of a young leadership who have lived through many of the difficulties of many in Turkey CHP are seen as an ‘old guard’ that do not represent modern Turkey. The leftists also are very critical of the party’s continuous opposition to the removal ofArticle 301 of Turkish penal code; which caused people to be prosecuted for “insulting Turkishness” including Nobel Winner author Orhan Pamuk, Elif Şafak, and the conviction of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, its attitude towards the minorities in Turkey, as well as its Cyprus policy.

Despite this recovery, since the dramatic General Election of 2002, the CHP has been racked by internal power struggles, and has been outclassed by the AK Party government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In the local elections of 2004, its overall share of the vote held, largely through mopping up anti-Erdoğan votes among former supporters of smaller left-wing and secular right-wing parties, but was badly beaten by the AK Party across the country, losing former strongholds such asAntalya.

Much of the blame was put on the leader of CHP Deniz Baykal. After the local elections CHP was racked by defections of several key members of the party all claiming a lack of democratic structure within the party and the increasingly authoritarian way in which Deniz Baykal runs the party. Even those who support Deniz Baykal would admit that the party would be much more successful with a different leader.

In October 2004, New Turkey Party (Yeni Türkiye Partisi, YTP) merged into the CHP. Lately Baykal is bidding for fusing the DSP and CHP together under one roof, namely CHP, under his leadership.

In order to present a strong alternative to the AK Party in the 2007 national elections, the DSP showed a sacrifice and entered the elections together with the CHP. The CHP and DSP alliance received 20.9% of the votes and entered the Parliament with 112 Members of Parliament.

During the 2009 local elections, the party tried to attract the conservative and devout Muslims to the party by allowing women who wear the chador to become party members including promises to introduce Koran courses if requested in every district.[10] However, the allowing of women wearing hijab into the party was received with a severe blow when a normally non-headscarved member of CHP (Kıymet Özgür) committed a provocation by wearing a black hijab and trying to get into an election bus in Istanbul. The incident raised questions about CHP’s initiatives in favor of religious freedoms.[11]The new initiatives introduced were surprising inside and outside the party, including military leaders, which the party itself is a major defender of Kemalist principles.

On 10 May 2010, Deniz Baykal announced his resignation as leader of the Republican People’s Party after a clandestinely made video tape of him, sitting on a bed where a woman is also eminent, who is identified as Nesrin Baytok, his former private secretary and a member of parliament, was leaked to the media.[12]

Although Baykal has stepped down from the chair of his party leadership, he is still active in politics for CHP as a parliament member, and will be running for a seat in parliament from his hometown, Antalya in 2011 elections as well.

Kılıçdaroğlu period (2010–present)[edit]

On May 22, 2010, the party convention of the Republican People’s Party elected Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to be the new party leader. Kılıçdaroğlu set about immediately to reform the party and many critics of the day commented positively how the Kılıçdaroğlu period would see the People’s Republican Party move more to the left as in the time of Bülent Ecevit, in contrast to the Baykal period which had moved CHP more closer to centre politics to such an extent that left-wing intellectuals had started to claim how the CHP was becoming a right-wing party. Kılıçdaroğlu has seen an immense rise in popularity and support throughout the country and for the first time in twenty years, the party has become directly active in the eastern parts of the Republic. In late 2010, the party held a Great Election where the Party Leader’s cabinet was reformed. It marked the end of the ‘Baykal – Onder Sav’ era completely where all opposition to the changing policy of the CHP was swiftly removed.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu efforts seemed to work since e elections held on June 12, 2011, CHP was able to increase the number & the percentage of voters to 11,155,972 and 25.98% respectively.

Yet, in 2012, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu faced an attempt for rebellion by the old guard in his own party, reportedly supported by Baykal. However, the attempt failed and at the Congress held in 2012, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu remained the CHP Leader. This paved the way for him into following his plans for what he considers renovating the party to becoming a social democratic party in the European context.


The CHP usually draw much of their support from secular and liberal religious voters with a stable electorate from voters of big cities, coastal regions, professional middle-class, and minority groups such as Alevis.

The party’s strongholds are the Aegaen region (İzmir, Aydın, Muğla), the Thrace region (Edirne, Kırklareli, Tekirdağ) and the college town Eskişehir.

Historical leaders[edit]

No. Name
Portrait Term in Office
1 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Atatürk.png 9 September 1923 10 November 1938
2 İsmet İnönü
Inonu Ismet.jpg 26 December 1938 8 May 1972
3 Bülent Ecevit
Bülent Ecevit-Davos 2000 cropped.jpg 14 May 1972 30 October 1980
Party closed down following the 12 September 1980 coup d’état
4 Deniz Baykal
Deniz Baykal headshot.jpg 9 September 1992 18 February 1995
5 Hikmet Çetin
Hikmet Çetin.jpg 18 February 1995 9 September 1995
(4) Deniz Baykal
Deniz Baykal headshot.jpg 9 September 1995 23 May 1999
6 Altan Öymen
Altan Öymen.png 23 May 1999 30 September 2000
(4) Deniz Baykal
Deniz Baykal headshot.jpg 30 September 2000 10 May 2010
7 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
Kemal Kilicdaroglu cropped.png 22 May 2010 Incumbent

Election results[edit]

General elections[edit]

Election date Party leader Number of votes received Percentage of votes MPs Placed Position
1946 İsmet İnönü Unknown 85%
397 / 465

1st Green tick Majority government
1950 İsmet İnönü 3,176,561 39.45%
69 / 487

2nd Red X Main opposition
1954 İsmet İnönü 3,161,696 35.36%
30 / 541

2nd Red X Main opposition
1957 İsmet İnönü 3,753,136 41.09%
178 / 602

2nd Red X Main opposition
1961 İsmet İnönü 3,724,752 36.74%
173 / 450

1st Green tick Coalition government
1965 İsmet İnönü 2,675,785 28.75%
134 / 450

2nd Red X Main opposition
1969 İsmet İnönü 2,487,163 27.37%
143 / 450

2nd Red X Main opposition
1973 Bülent Ecevit 3,570,583 33.30%
185 / 450

1st Green tick Coalition government
1977 Bülent Ecevit 6,136,171 41.38%
213 / 450

1st Green tick Minority government
1995 Deniz Baykal 3,011,076 10.71%
49 / 550

5th Green tick Junior coalition partner
1999 Deniz Baykal 2,716,096 9.91%
0 / 550

6th Red X Not inParliament
2002 Deniz Baykal 6,114,843 19.39%
178 / 550

2nd Red X Main opposition
2007 Deniz Baykal 7,300,234 20.88%
112 / 550

2nd Red X Main opposition
2011 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 11,155,972 25.98%
135 / 550

2nd Red X Main opposition
June 2015 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 11,513,380 24.95%
132 / 550

2nd Red X Main opposition
November 2015 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 11,518,139 25.31%
134 / 550

2nd Red X Main opposition

Senate elections[edit]

Election date Party leader Number of votes received Percentage of votes Number of senators
1961 İsmet İnönü 3,734,285 36,1% 36
1964 İsmet İnönü 1,125,783 40,8% 19
1966 İsmet İnönü 877,066 29,6% 13
1968 İsmet İnönü 899,444 27,1% 13
1973 Bülent Ecevit 1,412,051 33,6% 25
1975 Bülent Ecevit 2,281,470 43,4% 25
1977 Bülent Ecevit 2,037,875 42,4% 28
1979 Bülent Ecevit 1,378,224 29,1% 12

Local elections[edit]

Election date Party leader Provincial council votes Percentage of votes Number of municipalities
1963 İsmet İnönü 3,458,972 36,22% No data
1968 İsmet İnönü 2,542,644 27,90% No data
1973 Bülent Ecevit 3,708,687 37,09% No data
1977 Bülent Ecevit 5,161,426 41,73% No data
1994 Deniz Baykal 1,297,371 4,61% 64
1999 Deniz Baykal 3,487,483 11,08% 373
2004 Deniz Baykal 5,848,180 18,38% 392
2009 Deniz Baykal 9,233,662 23,11% 499[13]
2014 Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu 10,938,262 26.34% 232