Erdogan pledges to reach out to referendum opponents
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will analyze the outcome of last month's referendum on constitutional changes while gearing up for next summer's general elections, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said over the weekend. Speaking to a gathering of AK Party officials in Ankara, Erdogan said they had done in-depth research on the Sept. 12 referendum in order to figure out how to win over voters who opposed the reform package, which was approved by 58 percent for, 42 percent against. The research disproves claims that the referendum exposed deep public rifts and possible social disintegration, Erdogan said. Voters from across Turkey voted against the package for various reasons, he added, but mainly due to disinformation, smear campaigns, baseless fears, and demagogic fear-mongering. The research also brought new responsibilities to the ruling party, he said. "The research revealed something that we stressed just after the initial referendum results came out, namely that we have to work harder to win over voters who voted against the package " he explained. "We have to sincerely address their fears, questions, and concerns." Stating that a province-based analysis of the research is now underway, Erdogan said this would result in outreach projects to the package's opponents. "When we reach out to those citizens, to better explain ourselves to them and sincerely share our planned foreign policy steps and national unity and brotherhood project with them, when we manage to achieve this, I believe that then we will have also established a great Turkey," he said. "We will reach out to every sector of society to dispel prejudices."