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Yes and No campaigns neck and neck: Turkey’s referendum

Erdem Gül, the Ankara correspondent of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, has written about recent polls conducted by the AKP on the upcoming presidential referendum, claiming that the “Yes” vote has been unable to pass the 50% mark.

In an article which Gül has attributed to sources in the government corridors in Ankara, the writer describes the gap between the “yes” and “no” votes as being no more than a fraction of a percent wide. As a result, AKP pollsters have been likening the situation of this referendum more to the 1987 constitutional referendum, which ended 50.1%-49.9% in favour of the reform, than to the easily-won 2010 referendum.

Gül’s evaluation of the polling results follow:

“A hair’s breadth apart”

The race between “yes” and “no” has become ruthless. The pair are, in the full sense of the term, neck in neck. There’s no space even to breathe. Neither camp has pulled ahead, and the difference between the two is measured in decimal points, rather than full percentage points. We can’t even say that one camp is ahead 51-49. Once undecided voters are accounted for, the difference is more like 49.9-50.1%. As of today, it is very difficult to say which will pull ahead. Either “no” or “yes” could win by a fraction of a percentage.

The situation right now is such that there is unlikely to be any sudden push ahead by either “yes” or “no” votes. This is because of the gradual decrease in undecided voters, whose numbers have decreased to around 12-13%. During the final period before the referendum, we can expect every means to be employed to win over these undecided voters. The referendum will most probably result in a small difference between the two sides. To a large extent, this result will be defined by these undecided voters.

“High participation expected”

There had been predictions that the turnout for the referendum would be low, since this is not a general election and will not end with a change in government. However, indications now show that this will not be the case; participation is expected to reach 87%. This high turnout will ensure that the gap between “yes” and “no” will be very small. Both sides are driven by the knowledge that every one of their supporters who does not turn up to vote will benefit their opponents. This close-run race will increase the perception that every vote counts, and voter turnout will rise as a result.


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