On the 16th of April, the referendum about the proposed constitutional amendments was held. According to the Supreme Electoral Council, the yes-camp received 51.3% of the votes whereas 48.7% voted against the amendments. The opposition contested the results and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe criticized that both sides did not have equal campaign opportunities. AKP supporters celebrated their victory while there were protests against the outcome of the referendum. Before, the campaigns for or against the amendments had been similarly controversial and polarizing.
AKP politicians were holding rallies throughout the country. The MHP, which gave its support to the amendments during the parliamentary voting, was internally more divided. While the central party organization was officially part of the EVET campaign, at the provincial level this was contested and at times resulted in resignations. The HAYIR camp, on the other hand, faced several challenges to make their voice heard. CHP deputies often complained about the obstacles and pressures put on their campaign means. The HDP was effectively silenced, since many of its parliamentarians had been detained, including their chairpersons Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, due to an unconstitutional lifting of the immunity of parliamentarians the year before.
Since the mainstream media is almost completely government-controlled, it is hardly possible to talk about an equal representation of the two camps. Many critical journalists who have been wary of government's policies have been detained following the July 15 coup attempt. Others were put under pressure in the run-up to the referendum; for instance, an anchorman was openly dismissed from his position for revealing his no vote on his personal Twitter account. Moreover, the ongoing state of emergency, during which gatherings are forbidden or disbanded by police, put a huge strain on any street-level campaigning. Therefore, social media remain the main outlet through which the voices of opponents of the constitutional amendments can be heard. On Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, the opposition as well as the proponents of the amendments expressed their points of view through different hashtags. A number of celebrities had also joined these "social media wars", which demonstrate the polarization of the society.
Petersen, Felix; Yanaşmayan, Zeynep: The Final Trick? Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, and the Recomposition of the Turkish State, VerfBlog, 2017/1/28
Von Steinsdorff, Silvia: Presidentialism à la Turka or what? The (missing) logic behind the constitutional amendments, VerfBlog, 2017/2/13
Haimerl, Maria: The Turkish Constitutional Court under the Amended Turkish Constitution, VerfBlog, 2017/1/27
Interview with Silvia von Steinsdorff (Deutsche Welle)
Interview with Ece Göztepe (Gazete Duvar)