Turkish PM Yıldırım reveals details of referendum campaign

The ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) Party launched its campaign for the April 16 constitutional reform referendum with a colorful ceremony in the capital Ankara, with the attendance of around 40,000 people from all around Turkey on Saturday.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım officially launched his party’s referendum campaign in Ankara Arena, which was decorated with colorful posters and placards saying ‘Yes.’

The details of the ‘Yes’ campaign, including its slogans and songs were revealed during the event, where Prime Minister Yıldırım addressed tens of thousands of people and explained the details of the referendum.

“Our choice for a strong Turkey and permanent stability is ‘yes” Yıldırım said, as he noted that the new system will strengthen the country’s economy, boost investment and productivity.

Yıldırım also noted that the new system will reduce bureaucracy, and put an end to terrorism.

“Terrorist organizations are tearing themselves apart to ensure people vote ‘no’ in the referendum because the proposed constitutional change will mean their end,” Yıldırım said, adding that terrorist organizations will be destroyed regardless of the results.

The Prime Minister also highlighted that the AK Party respects all choices and will always embrace everyone in favor of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)’s policies.

“We respect all decisions and aim to achieve concrete results by capturing the hearts and minds of the people” Yıldırım added.

“They have failed to explain to their own people what it actually means to change the constitution and go for a presidential system. Not everyone understands what Erdogan is trying to do,” says Burak Kadercan, an expert on Turkish politics at the U.S. Naval War College.

“No one is in a position to come forward and challenge Tayyip Erdogan. So that’s the situation: there is discontent. There is this energy of a kind of opposition, but it is not said out loud very much,” adds Mahcupyan, in a phone interview.

“It’s going to be tough. We are not well organized now because of all this pressure, but we know that there is a deep dissatisfaction against Erdogan, particularly as the economic crisis is deepening. There is definitely a chance. So, it is not a done deal for President Erdogan,” says Hisyar Ozsoy, a lawmaker affiliated with the opposition HDP.

President Erdogan campaigning in Austria not allowed

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is “not welcome” to hold campaign events in Austria ahead of April’s referendum on strengthening his powers, the foreign minister in Vienna said Monday.

Sebastian Kurz said that Erdogan campaigning over the controversial referendum would “increase friction” in Austria and “hinder the integration” of the country’s 360,000-strong Turkish origin minority, which includes 117,000 Turkish citizens.

“Campaign events are not welcome. Of course the Turkish president, like other senior politicians, can make bilateral visits to Europe and Austria for talks with top officials,” said Kurz.

“But we clearly reject bringing the Turkish campaign and polarisation to Austria,” Kurz was quoted as saying in a foreign ministry statement.

The ministry said Erdogan’s previous visits to Austria and also Germany had created “tensions” between his supporters and Turks of Kurdish origin, which have increased since July’s attempted coup.