Monday, September 13, 2010

Turks Pass Constitutional Changes

Wall Street Journal
September 13, 2010

Turks voted to amend the nation's constitution by a wide margin Sunday, according to unofficial results, delivering a surprise boost to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamic-leaning government ahead of elections next year.

The referendum on a package of 26 constitutional amendments has been touted as a key battle in the struggle to determine Turkey's future by both sides: the country's secular establishment and a rising conservative elite that Mr. Erdogan represents. On Sunday, Mr. Erdogan appeared to win convincingly.

State television channel TRT1 reported that the amendment package won approval with a vote of 58% to 42%, with a turnout of about 78%. Most opinion polls had predicted a much tighter margin. The results aren't final.

"Once more it has been seen that transformation is possible within democracy," Mr. Erdogan said in an hour-long victory speech to party faithful in Istanbul on Sunday night. "Today, tonight the mind-set of those enthusiastic for coups has lost."