The Gift of God to Turkey
"This is a historic decision, not an ordinary event. We are carrying out the most important reform in the history of our nation."
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president, Turkey
"Yes, yes, yes! Our leader is the gift of God to us."
"We will always support him. He's governing so well."
Mualla Sengul, Erdogan supporter, Ankara
"He's a real leadership figure because he is not a politician that comes from the outside. He comes from the street."Mr. Erdogan's long-time, carefully nurtured plan to replace Turkey's parliamentary system with a presidential model, will now move forward. He had suffered a temporary setback a year and a half earlier when the Kurdish party had won a large number of seats in parliament, while his own Justice and Development Party had gained fewer seats than he had anticipated. Careful manipulation in a later vote turned that situation around, setting the stage, through the arrest of many of the Kurdish HDP parliamentarians and greater numbers of the governing party elected, to the current situation becoming reality.
"He has 40 years of political experience and is very strong in practical terms."
"He is a harsh leader in character. But in Turkey, a country that has so many problems, in societies like ours, the image of strong leadership is necessary to command both fear and respect and trust in society."
Birol Akgun, international relations expert, Yildirim Beyazit Univeresity, Ankara
"There are no losers of this referendum."
"Turkey won, the beloved people won."
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim
"[I normally vote for Erdogan] but I want to keep the Parliament system."
"I don't want to get on a bus with no brake system. A one-man system is like that. [I will vote] no."
Mustafa Sacat, 62, Istanbul resident
The opposition CHP party plan to contest 37 percent of the ballot boxes over suspicions of vote tampering will change little. The High Electoral Board accepted ballots not given official stamps, a last-minute decision of their acceptance, defying proof of fraudulence. While opponents of Erdogan fear Turkey will now become a dictatorship with the greater concentration of power in the presidency, once a ceremonial position, with greater power resting in the position of prime minister. Now however, there will no longer be a prime minister, only a president, with unlimited powers as head of state and government head.
There will now be no turn-about in the political situation for the country up to 2029, the date to which it is assumed that Erdogan will continue to rule, after several five-year electoral wins once his current term expires. With the initial minority government achieved by Erdogan's party in 2003, he built on the momentum toward a majority government and with each succeeding election where he and his AKP party became more firmly entrenched, corruption did as well, and so did an increasingly volatile, abusive autocratic leader.
It is not entirely outside the realm of possibility that this man orchestrated the the coup that he attributed to the Gulenist movement with Kurdish involvement, to manipulate his supporters' belief the country was under siege by its enemies which included the West. Erdogan blamed the United States for collusion in the attempted coup to dislodge him and later characterized Germany and the Netherlands as Nazis when they refused to permit Turkish ministers to campaign in their countries for the referendum's passage.
The coup enabled him to increase his firm grip on power, and the fact that Turks came together as one in reaction to the violence, enabled him to have the growing confidence to put 100,000 Turks out of their jobs as judges, lawyers, teachers, journalists, military officers and police. Over 40,000 people were placed under arrest, ostensibly because they were involved in the coup, but in reality because they were opposed to the actions the president was taking to create divisions in the country and to ostracize his opponents.
An estimated 86 percent of voters turned out on Sunday from among 55-million eligible to vote. Significantly, divisions within the population are of such monumental depth that Turkey's three most populous cities, Istanbul, Ankara the capital and the western province of Izmir all voted against the referendum. Erdogan's support came largely from the less educated, more Islamist rural areas of the country. A situation that typifies the support given tyrants from among the population base.