The CHP's 'referendum strategy'? - ALI SAYDAM

The CHP's 'referendum strategy'?

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) platform activities could not prevent the constitutional amendment package from passing Parliament with 339 votes. However, apparently, it is now trying to prevent the package from being put to referendum through the methods – that are of course outside relying on the will of the people – it is accustomed to and has been trying since 1950.

The news reads:

“In the application it is going to submit in relation to form, the CHP is getting ready to include in the file the 'objections' in terms of the legislation proposal and the secret voting violations it brought up on the agenda during the vote. The CHP, which has on camera the secret voting violations that caused arguments during the meetings in the General Assembly, is going to present these recordings and meeting minutes to Turkey's Constitutional Court (AYM).”

They are apparently going to request the cancellation of the vote. Apparently the video recordings are in the file. They are going to apply to the AYM and request the cancellation of the constitutional amendment package that was legislated in the Parliament's General Assembly. And the video recordings are their biggest trump card.

There is no doubt that this spy activity will strengthen the perception that the CHP circle is against the referendum. A reminder for those who say, “Yes, the CHP is against the referendum anyway”: You cannot achieve a positive reflection that will give you the majority from a process you oppose. Could it be possible that they did not think attacks such as occupying the platform, protesting with handcuffs on or trying to find flaws through video recordings would be regarded as acts to avoid a public referendum?

Yet, they had no need for these acts of defiance. They failed to see that it could not function as required due to the interruptions that found meaning in the parliamentary regime's “A coup every decade” statement, that the existing Constitution is no longer fit for this dynamic and constantly developing, evolving society, that the transformation of the “new constitution” proposal – which has long been accepted by the people anyway – from intention to action – also with the participation of the people – has become compulsory.

Let's say that they indeed did not see it, but when they were saying they are against the proposed presidential system, they could have at least told what they preferred. They suggested the term, “developed parliamentary system,” which has no obvious meaning. But they failed to show the will to put forth a sound strategy in the form of, “Our constitutional amendment suggestion is…”

Once again, they only stated what they oppose, not what they prefer, and started to defend the outdated 1982 Constitution.

On top of it all, they issued a statement to The Guardian newspaper saying, “We are the best defenders of Western values, but the West does not protect us.” Have no doubt, this nation will regard the application to the AYM as an appeal to the West again rather than the national will.

Andy-Ar Research Company CEO Faruk Acar said, “To state it with an annotation, as of now there is only a two-point difference between the yes and no votes. So one is 44 and the other is 42.” Acar warned the CHP too, saying, “If the CHP and HDP [Peoples' Democratic Party] follow a single campaign within the same picture, this will bring a 'yes' result with 60 percent [of the vote]. In our research, it will likely be around the 55 to 60 percent mark.”

I wonder how long the CHP staff thought over the political cost of creating a perception at least in accordance with “protests,” “spying,” the “ends justify the means” understanding, and “moving away from the national will,” not embracing it, in a strategy it needs to focus on “convincing,” which is the most serious pillar of political communication?

Our aim is not to teach the CHP the kind of communication strategy they need to apply. Far from it. That would be crossing the line. Our aim is simply to point to the necessity of establishing a political atmosphere in which no democratic process, “bureaucratic oligarchy” in particular, is adversely affected as a result of weak opposition.

Looking at it from the perspective of those who voted “yes,” it is tough to say that the “convincing” process was utilized properly. Eyes are on the president who is getting ready to take to the fields again. Have you ever come across a Justice and Development Party (AK Party) politician who explains that the referendum process is not a regime change but a change of system as clear as the president?

For those of us who are yet to have a clear understanding of the upcoming processes, there is benefit in paying attention to what President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said when he was responding to journalists' questions before his visit to Africa.

His statement deserves particular attention: “Although there are those who say it is a regime change, this is a system change. This change of system is not recent, it goes all the way back to the founding of our Republic. They keep on saying one-man rule; they will not know this unless they know the establishment of the Republic. We will accept our nation's decision with pleasure.”

Without an idea, hence, no self-check, the form and appearance of the matter comes to the forefront. As a result, without a “great idea” that will protect you, make it easier to serve your purpose, you lose ground and obsess over “secret votes” with a massive “form” problem and eventually appeal to the West and waste time.

When the trio of “great idea,” “great leader,” “great organization” come together, you can impress the people and also win their hearts.


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