Ruling AKP says ‘federalism debate’ cost them 2 percent loss

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has concluded in a meeting after the results of the April 16 charter referendum were revealed that a “federalism” debate with its ally opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had cost a 2 percent loss to the “yes” vote, according to sources. 
“The voters said we’ll walk with you, but also asked for self-criticism,” party seniors said at the meeting, adding that the outcome will accelerate a change in party organization. 

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli slammed advisers of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on April 13 for suggesting the possibility of a federal structure if the “yes” side prevailed in the referendum, adding that he would fire his own advisers if they ever spoke against the unitary state structure. 

But the next day Erdoğan denied such claims, saying that “the biggest defender of the unitary structure of Turkey is us, myself,” a remark that was found “extremely satisfactory” by Bahçeli.

The party, however, believes the talks on a federal system on the eve of the public vote resulted in a drop in nationalist votes. 

The ruling party is also dissatisfied with the performance of the municipalities, the sources said, while adding that the July 15, 2016, coup attempt had a positive impact on the results. 

They added that cooperation with the MHP for the presidential elections scheduled for 2019 will continue. 

The AKP saw an aging problem among its electorate, experiencing young, educated and urban voters distancing themselves from the party.

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