Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Turkey's referendum explained

If you've picked up a newspaper or turned on the television this week, chances are you've read something about Turkey's referendum on Sunday. If you're confused about what the prevailing 'yes' vote actually meant, here's a quick rundown.

The population was basically voting to change the country's constitution. Designed to curb the power of the country's military and the judicial bureaucracy in Turkey borne of the 1982 junta-made constitution, the changes mean many people hoping to move to the country will breathe a bit easier knowing the military no longer hold such power in this coup-renowned nation.

The referendum results will likely have far-reaching effects. Domestically, the results pave the way for democratic reforms by preventing the judicial system from obstructing democracy. The outcome was seen as a nod of confidence for the ruling AK Party's foreign policy, and support for the government's foreign policy.

Long term, the referendum amendments means stability for this country, whose history has been punctuated by battles against military rule. With military coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980, it's not hard to see why reforms were needed to curb the military's powerful presence. Now, the military will not be ruled by its own law, as before, but by a common law for all the people.

For many, the most important aspect of the referendum is Turkey's ability to try the military leaders responsible for the 1980 coup, who are no longer immune to the law with which they had shrouded themselves.

With civilian leaders holding more power than before, Turkey's democratic future seems assured.


  1. Turkey is one of five NATO member states which are part of the nuclear sharing policy of the alliance, together with Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. Turkey's varied landscapes are the product of complex earth movements that have shaped the region over thousands of years and still manifest themselves in fairly frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions.

  2. Do you believe the referendum will pave the way for democratic reforms?