The result of a “yes” or “no” vote in the April constitutional referendum will not spark a civil war in Turkey, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said, urging politicians to refrain from using accusatory and discriminative language throughout the campaign process.
“I never think there is such a risk,” he told private broadcaster NTV in an interview late Feb. 16.
His words came after a local Justice and Development Party (AKP) official claimed that a civil war would erupt in the event that people would vote against the shift to an executive presidency.
“If a different result emerges, it would introduce a more oppressive government. Public reaction then would be stronger, and it is right to see such a reaction. But deeming this a civil war, talking about a civil war is not right. Politics should not be based on fear,” he said.
AKP Manisa provincial deputy head Ozan Erdem had to resign upon the party’s demand, which Kılıçdaroğlu welcomed. “This was a grave statement. But what made me pleased was the reaction shown by AKP officials who demanded the resignation of this person,” he said.
Not war but referendum
Kılıçdaroğlu said the Turkish people will determine their future on April 16 and reiterated that no war would erupt as a result of either of the votes. Stressing that some AKP officials were trying to instill fear in people by suggesting that terror would escalate if the changes were rejected, he called on all politicians to use a more careful and inclusive language to embrace all citizens regardless of their votes.
“We are going to a referendum. Of course, there will be those who will vote ‘yes’ and those who will vote ‘no.’ Politicians should not blame those voting ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ This can create serious division within the society and cause provocations,” he stressed.
“The AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance cannot convince people why they should endorse the charter changes, while the CHP is very clear in making its case. According to some surveys, the ‘no’ votes are slightly ahead of the ‘yes,’ but undecided votes remain high,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
He said he expected that MHP’s loyal adherents would vote against the changes because of their nationalist sentiments.
Raqqa ops would be a mistake
On discussions whether Turkey should continue its military offensive inside Syria toward Raqqa, he urged the government not to go further south after capturing al-Bab from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“Should the Turkish army go the Raqqa or no? Let’s put it to referendum. This is a vital issue. These are our children who are being martyred. If they are keen on continuing, they should send their own children,” he said.