Socialist Worker

Turkish vote marks decisive victory

by Chris Stephenson
Issue No. 2219

The referendum for democratising changes to Turkey's constitution has been passed by a higher than expected margin, with 58 percent voting yes.

Once again Turkey's population has shown that, given a choice, it will vote against the influence of the armed forces in politics. This repeats the experience of every previous free vote.

The vote would have been even higher but for a boycott of the referendum called by the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party. In the largest Kurdish city, Diyarbakir, only a third of voters went to the polls, but over 90 percent of those who did, voted yes. In other Kurdish provinces the boycott was even more effective.

The Kurdish boycott has sent a message to the Islamist government that they need to take Kurdish demands seriously. Kurdish parties want constitutional guarantees for their citizenship, language and cultural rights.

Turkey's new party of left unity, the Equality and Democracy Party, campaigned across most of Turkey's provinces for a yes vote while criticising the government's policies and calling for further constitutional change. This is significant because the party, only formed in March, included left currents that would, on their past record, have been expected to vote no.

Unfortunately the opposition the social democratic People's Republican Party and much of the far left supported a no vote—with a few honourable exceptions.

The yes vote has created expectations of change. The left must now force the government to make sure the generals who made the 1980 military coup are prosecuted, go further in democratising Turkey, making the constitutional changes that can open the way to a solution of the Kurdish problem, ending the closure of political parties by the courts, guaranteeing workers and union rights, and reforming Turkey's electoral system.

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Tue 14 Sep 2010, 17:14 BST
Issue No. 2219
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