What are people voting for in Turkey's referendum?

Turks will vote on April 16 on whether to amend their constitution. On the streets of Istanbul, voting "yes" or "no" has personal significance.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A 'Yes' vote will transition Turkey to a presidential system while a 'No' vote will maintain the current system.

Updated Apr 5, 2017

Huseyin Suver,  55.
Sandwich seller, Vezneciler, Fatih​

 

“I will say yes because we’ve seen really difficult days, days where coalition governments were formed and they would fall apart. There was poverty and black markets. I had a minibus, but couldn’t afford the tyres or the gas. We’re a country that produces tea, but we couldn’t drink it. We are a country of sugar beets, but we couldn’t buy sugar to put in our tea. We produce tobacco, but we couldn’t even smoke cigarettes.

I’ve seen these times. And why did they happen? Instability. We need stability. Of course I will vote yes! Now, when I use my vote, I will choose both my government and my leader. There will no longer be issues of whether a government will be formed or not.”

Birol, 21,
Sociology student at Bahcesehir University, Besiktas

“I will vote in the referendum, and I will vote ‘no.’ The reason -- there are many. After everything that has happened in Turkey, I think that there needs to be significant changes but I believe that this can only happen through societal awareness, not through constitutional change. In other words, the proposed changes will not solve any of the issues we have, in my opinion. I don’t see anything new there.

The ideal country I have in mind is not about becoming western and modern, or being eastern and staying connected to our traditions. We have a particular culture in Turkey, which I completely respect, and we shouldn’t lose our understanding of modernity, and perhaps even Kemalist ideals, even though I disagree with some aspects of it. And maybe some liberal ideals too. I think these will be good for the future of Turkey.” 
    
 Ilyas Avci, 22 (left) and Adnan Abdiov, 23 (right),  Geography students, Istanbul University. Vezneciler, Fatih

Ilyas Avci: I will vote, and I will say no. We’re very good friends, by the way. I also read the changes, and I am especially concerned about the amendments regarding the judiciary. The problem is that we are trying to solve our problems with laws -- but our main issues, like the areas of education, or economy can only be solved through long-term planning. I read somewhere that if even a little more of the budget was allocated towards education, what a difference that would make. I especially believe that if we can progress in the area of education, we can definitely solve all of our problems.”

Adnan Abdiov: “I will vote yes, not because of the AK Party but because I think this will take Turkey forward in the right direction.

I read the amendments, and while I do not agree with all of them, the good outweigh the bad; the amendments I agree with are greater than the ones I disagree with. Right now, things are progressing so slowly — this thing we call ‘bureaucracy’ sometimes slows things down to a point where you don't get anything done. I believe with these changes that we will be able to achieve goals quickly and correctly.”

Sibel (left), and Simge (right),  Besiktas Port 

Simge: “Well, I can’t vote yet, but if I could, I would say no.”

Sibel: “We’re saying no. We’re concerned about one person at the head of everything. There are so many foreigners in Turkey right now --practically more than us. They are more concerned about Syrians than they are about us. Would those countries do the same for us if we were in the same position?”

Nihat Koc, 61, retired.

“God willing, I will vote. Do you see that flag over there? I hung that there. The presidential system -- there is no better. I’m an MHP-ist -- I’m not saying yes because I’m an AK Party supporter, or because I’m an Erdogan-ist. I’m voting yes for the homeland. For my flag, for our people, and for our customs. The future of Turkey is bright -- if we add to the things we do now, it will be better, God willing. But look, I’m not arguing with anyone. Look inside that cafe -- half of them are 'Yes-ers' and the other half are 'No-ers,' and we don’t fight.”

Oguzcan Saygili, 61, retired

“And I’m voting no, because I am concerned about the amount of powers given to the president. Even in a plane you have two captains, and in a boat four, in case something happens! This is my main concern. Everything else is just details.”

Mustafa, 47, private sector

I’m voting yes because I love my country. Look, don’t forget how we used to wait in line for gas. Don’t forget the days where we waited in line for oil, or flour. The markets didn’t have oil, or bread. There wasn’t anything. And our children were hungry. Let’s not forget those days. I want Turkey’s future to be bright. I want a beautiful Turkey.” 

Author: Fatima Taskomur

Source: 
TRTWorld