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Kılıçdaroğlu’s stark reply to referendum criticism: The other side was armed

CHP General Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has replied to criticism that he remained passive after the referendum results.
Yayınlanma tarihi: 05 Mayıs 2017 Cuma, 17:42

Heading the criticisms levelled against Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the CHP which is conducting a legal battle over the controversial referendum results, is talk of him remaining passive since that evening.

Following Kılıçdaroğlu’s address at the Bab-ı Ali Meeting, journalist Zafer Arapkirli inquired of the CHP leader, ‘Why did you not call on citizens to protest at the same time as the objections made to the poll results on the first evening? Why were there no street protests? The word about you is that you remained passive over this.’

Kılıçdaroğlu replied to Arapkirli as follows:

‘The other side was armed. We had received tip offs to this effect. I discussed this with my colleagues in the party that evening (the referendum evening). And we did not call on citizens to take to the streets to hold protests. We decided not shoulder this responsibility out of the concern that very serious incidents could ensue.’

Here are notes made from the address given by the CHP leader at the meeting:

Kılıçdaroğlu, listing the conditions that are necessary for a referendum to be fit for purpose as being a free environment, the people being informed prior to the process and during the process and for there to be a level playing field as far as ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes went, said the following with reference to the 16 April referendum process: 

‘Did we conduct it within a free environment? No. There is nobody in the world who does not know this. Everybody knows full well that this referendum was not conducted under equal conditions. The state using all its resources, the lack of a free environment, decrees with the force of law, state of emergency practices ... All these things overshadowed the referendum. Was adequate information imparted prior to the process and during the process? No. Debate in parliament did not resonate with the public sufficiently and TV stations did not devote enough time to this. Single dimensional discussion programmes were carried by much of the media. So, we all witnessed a campaign in which the proposed arrangements were such perfect arrangements for Turkey but those who argued otherwise were spurned. Information was insufficient and unreliable. There was no level playing field, either. Everybody knows this, actually. Despite all this, a result emerged. The result to emerge, and let me state something that I believe one hundred per cent: a result emerged in which ‘no’ was higher. All citizens who went to the polls and voted are for me most valuable. We must thank them from the bottom of our hearts. In the face of so much intimidation and blackmail, and despite concerns as to whether they would face the music for voicing their opinions at the ballot box, they went and voted. The Supreme Election Council (SEC) totally changed the course of events with a resolution it passed at the last minute and overshadowed the legitimacy of this referendum process. They had no qualms over passing a resolution that was blatantly unlawful.’

Kılıçdaroğlu, recalling that the most recent term he had used for the SEC was ‘gang’, commented, ‘There is a judicial gang in existence. They criticised me saying, “Why do you say gang?” A process in which people who do not act lawfully come together and take a decision is in fact a gang process. There is a law here and it is sufficiently explicit to leave no room for any interpretation. The law says, “Unstamped voting slips are invalid.” So, how come you say they are valid? This is not the correct pronouncement, but this is the full extent of what was done.’


Kemal Kılıçdardoğu commented as follows on the future of the ‘single-man regime’: ‘He is vested with power of all kinds. We know this, anyway. From Mr Bahçeli's description, this is what the de-facto situation also amounted to. Words are spoken and prosecutors swing into action; words are spoken and people are thrown in jail; words are spoken and they are brought out of jail; different words are spoken and parliament swings into action. The most objectional aspect of this process as it impacts on democracy is the transferring of a significant portion of parliament’s powers to one person. Parliament is the warrior parliament and a parliament that directed the War of National Salvation and represents the national will, but a significant portion of this parliament’s powers have been stripped from it and given to one person. So, this parliament’s warrior status has now been put in question. Parliament has been turned into a parliament that cannot stand up for its own will.’

Kılıçdaroğlu, saying that a ‘two-faced law’ had emerged, said, ‘Think, you elect a president and he is supposed to be impartial, but he will be partial and will be a party’s general chair. The same president will, according to Article 103 of the Constitution, say, “I will act impartially. I swear to be impartial on my good name and honour before the great Turkish people and in the presence of history.” This is unabashed two-facedness. Where? In the Constitution. Can a country’s constitution be two-faced? Unfortunately it is two-faced. In a process in which the rules of morality were dragged along the ground we have introduced and applied a constitution devoid of the rules of morality. What does this have to do with democracy? What kind of democracy are we speaking of?’

Kılıçdaroğlu, stating that a law’s being in force and its being legitimate are different, commented, ‘A law may be in force, but its legitimacy may be debated. The 1982 Constitution was approved by more than ninety per cent, but all political parties have debated the legitimacy of this constitution since 1982. These amendments that have been made are in force, but are not legitimate; they are not legitimate in political, legal or moral terms. You will see that there will be debate over this for a long time. Until it changes.’


CHP General Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu continued his address as follows:

‘This referendum showed us that we are not alone. It showed us that we had converged on the democratic common denominator of tens of thousands having different colours and different voices, from ultranationalists all the way to socialists, from nationalists all the way to the pious and from liberals all the way to communists. The democratic common denominator taught us a wonderful thing: there are at least fifty per cent that defend democracy. This presents an exceptional window of opportunity. There are at least 50% - according to official figures 49% - that, in the face of all kinds of intimidation, violence, blackmail and impossibilities, went to the polls and voted. A referendum was held under 12 September conditions. ‘Yes’ got more than 90% in the referendum under 12 September conditions. Today, under the same conditions, ‘no’ got more than 50% at the very least. This is something exceptional. At least 50% belong to the group that is educated and questions the world. So, they are a group that is best able to explain democracy to those who voted ‘yes’. And for the latter, they are a group that will explain how important democracy is. This is an exceptional opportunity for us.’

Kılıçdaroğlu, stating that different colours and different voices converged on the democratic common denominator and this denominator must be expanded, said this space must not become bogged down in sterile quarrels and sterile arguments.

Kılıçdaroğlu, recounting that, as the CHP viewed the issue as being an issue of the country, it did not come over as being dominant in the referendum campaign and used a language that embraced all sections of society, commented, ‘Democracy is very important for me and democracy is very important for those who do not think like me. They should also be able to freely express their opinions; they should also have safety of life and property; they should also have freedom of faith and conscience. I should be able to escape oppression and so should they. We will have succeeded to the extent that we have got this across. Doors opened wherever we went. We went, not with a political identity, but with a patriotic identity, and explained that, “We must construct a better Turkey for the future of our country and our children.” It was not only us, but all components of the common denominator that tried to explain this.’

Kılıçdaroğlu, stating that they were taking their efforts forward in the aftermath of the referendum, said, ‘We have instructed our organisations in their entirety. Over the coming two months, we will revisit all the places we went and thank them, regardless of whether they voted “yes” or “no”. Let’s make a joke. The Justice and Development Party are also supposedly going to make gratitude visits, but they started by visiting the SEC.’


Kılıçdaroğlu, pointing out that the only concern of those who urged people to vote ‘yes’ at election rallies was themselves, said:

‘They spent a referendum campaign in which they harped on about me from morning to afternoon and night. They said I was not telling the truth but today the truth is slowly coming out. A person whose independence is enshrined in the Constitution and the text of his oath went and signed up to a party. Now this party’s general chair will appoint judges to the courts. They did not believe it and said, “Such a thing can’t happen.” Now they will see that it has. They will see as events unfold that a nightmarish prospect stands before Turkey. We will continue with persistence and great decisiveness to speak the truth while again embracing all sections of society. We will, as we explain this, invoke the right of resistance as we continue on our way, that is with words and actions that will never bestow legitimacy on this constitutional amendment. In speaking of the right of resistance, this is not a right of resistance of the sort that uses mortars and rifles, but involves explaining our thoughts to all sections of society in all places, all environments and all actions. If we can explain these we can transport this success we achieved that official figures put at 49% onto a much bigger common denominator as events unfold.’

Kılıçdaroğlu, stressing that constitutions are documents of social concord, expressed the views, ‘This amendment has divided society in two. What has emerged is not a document of concord, but a document of social discord. This document cannot support Turkey’s weight. These scales cannot support this weight. As to them, they cannot govern this country prudently. They lack the power, they lack the experience and they also lack the knowledge to govern. The state cannot be governed with crude force, rancour and anger, nor indeed should it be. That is what lies in prospect as events unfold. Our responsibility is actually just beginning. We will live up to this in full and will fight all kinds of fight. We will never ever bestow legitimacy on this constitutional amendment. We will not accept an illegitimate arrangement, an undemocratic arrangement, an arrangement that endangers Turkey’s future. We most certainly will never fall into the trap of accepting a state of complete lawlessness as being legitimate. We will both dispute its legitimacy within the prevailing rules and ensure its change within those rules. If, as events unfold, we expand the ‘no’ common denominator, explain democracy very well and live up to what is incumbent on us, a result cannot but be attained.’

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