Anatolia’s Revenge

The results are in and YES has won a narrow 51.4% victory in the Turkish referendum on making the country into a Presidential republic.

This map I found (via Turkish Wikipedia) is the only one to show regional gradations. It shows the percentage of people voting NO.


It is electorally very typical for Turkey, which consists of three main regional patterns: The rich, cosmopolitan, higher-IQ liberal elites on the western coast and around Ankara, who vote for the Kemalist CHP; the poorer, more religious Turkish conservatives in the Anatolian heartlands, who vote for Erdogan’s AKP and the nationalist MHP; and the impoverished, low-IQ Kurdish minorities in the south-east, who vote for their ethnic minority interest group party, the HDP.

The story of this referendum is that the liberal cosmopolitans and the Kurds joined forces, but failed to stymie Erdogan’s conservative Turkish majority.

Here is a map of the vote from overseas polling stations (via /u/nine6s):


Looks like German “magic dirt” did nothing to make Anatolian Gastarbeiters more liberal. They voted just like their cousins back home.

However, the Turks from the Anglosphere and Asia – most of whom are students, businessmen, etc. – mostly voted NO.

turkey-referendum-2017-observersWas there fraud? Plenty of videos that suggest it (e.g. 1, 2, 3). More suspeciously, the Supreme Elections Board decided to consider unstamped ballots valid,  which is against the law. There may about 2.5 million of them, which would easily be enough to tip the election if they are significantly biased towards YES. EU observers were not happy (see their statement on the right). The CHP and HDP say they will be mounting a legal challenge, but with Erdogan having declared victory, it is unlikely anuthing will come out of it.

Brief geopolitical comment: I would note that Trump has rushed to congratulate Erdogan, whereas Putin has been conspicuous in his silence.

This supports the intuition I expressed a couple of days ago that this, in conjunction with Trump’s about-turn on Syria, presages nothing good for Russia.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. This referendum in Turkey proves the power of demographic trends to influence politics over the long run. The more conservative Turks in Anatolia have had and continue to have a higher TFR then their more liberal countrymen living on the west coast, and thus, the liberals have lost power as their share of the voting electorate has shrunk.

    I expect the same trends will also overtime make Pakistan a more religious state, with the more secular urban Pakistani’s out-bred by their more religious conservative countrymen living in the rural areas.

    The same I daresay would happen in the west, for example in America with more conservative white protestants out breeding other whites and making the country more conservative, but the left has found a way to stymie that by importing foreign peoples and monopolizing their votes, although this is only a short term strategy, as the imported groups are also conservative, hence in the long run the west will either be ruled by native conservatives, or foreign imported conservatives, liberal rule thus being untenable unless they can convert large portions of conservatives every generation to their worldview.

    This referendum most likely does represent a larger shift in meta-politics, this referendum was not just upon changing the system of government but was in many ways a referendum on which path Turkey should take, clearly liberalism is on the decline in Turkey, indeed it seems to have utterly collapsed in West Asia, a major shift. Ataturk’s vision is dead, a good thing as I think Turkey was never a western nation and the best way forward for turkey is to embrace its Turkic and Islamic roots, I just wish the nations of Europe would also embrace their roots.

    Its interesting how Turkey and Russia, two nations on the periphery of Europe have taken similar paths over the last century, both have had various leaders who tried to “westernize” their respective nations, and both nations have now gone back to following a path of development based off their history and culture, in Russia’s case, an illiberal form of democracy combined with Orthodoxy and some nationalism, and in Turkey’ case, authoritarianism combined with Sunni Islam plus nationalism. Although in Turkey’s case, I see a growing conflict between its Islamic identity and its nationalist one if Erdogan really does allow millions of Syrians to settle in Turkey.

    In the long run though, Turkey is likely to fragment unless they can solve the Kurdish question, the Kurds have a TFR of around 2.8 vs 2.0 for ethnic Turks according to the estimates I have seen, something which means major demographic shifts going forward.

  2. Why the hell are there Turks in Thailand ???

  3. Is Erdogan still /ourguy/?

  4. At first I thought I’d happily bang the dark girl in the Iron Maiden shirt, just to cheer her up after this devastating electoral result, but then a few seconds later I thought maybe she was overweight (I couldn’t see her well enough and it was just a couple seconds anyway), so it was a really short Platonic romance on my part.

    As already discussed, Erdogan is not any worse than a junta might be, and for a short time it looked like it would turn out better.

  5. Verymuchalive says

    I see they declared the votes of Turkish citizens in Israel ( surely not all diplomats ! ). No majority for Sultan Recep I ! Even stranger, only Turkish citizens in Uzbekhistan and Kirghizstan ( of Turkic states ) gave him approval.
    You do your best with Turkish matters – much better than Patrick Cockburn for sure. But it is not your speciality. I look for Turkish commenters of a secular bent to inform and correct our viewpoints. But we do don’t seem to get them. If you are out there, please comment.
    I hope Mr Unz can get some informed, secular Turkish person to write on these matters, like Mr Martyanov now comments on Russian, Defence and Naval Issues.

  6. As of 2009 there were 140 Turkish citizens living in Thailand,probably in some type of construction business. I once applied for a Chinese visa in Istanbul, the Turks there seem to be very well educated

  7. Uebersetzer says

    The MHP leader Bahceli failed to get most of the MHP voters to vote Yes. Actually Yes should have walked this, and the AKP may need to engage in more electoral fraud next time. There are a lot of tensions in Turkey, not just Turk-Kurd but also Sunni-Alevi and even MHP versus Syrian refugees (there was a clash in Mersin last night).

  8. Maj. Kong says

    A lot of tensions, like that Armenian minority, oh wait…

  9. Uebersetzer says

    The Armenians in Istanbul were partly exempted until the 1950s and were still a significant part of the business community there until the 1955 pogrom of Greeks and Armenians ordered by Menderes.

  10. You can find everyone everywhere if you look at small enough numbers. I have met Somalis (from Somalia, non emigrants) holidaying in Thailand.

  11. Wow – great comment with lots of reflection on reality and not just utopian ideals.

    Remember also that the Ottoman Empire was able to absorb thousands upon thousands of Muslims from the Cacausus region during their wars with Tsarist Russia. Well I guess that goes back to the identity of Islam vs Turk.


  12. Perhaps we should remember the huge part of Europe conquered and enslaved by the Ottoman empire for 500 years or so instead, sport.

  13. Uebersetzer says

    Although this applied more if they were Sunni, as was generally the case with Muslim refugees from the Tsarist Empire (called to this day muhacir ). Alevis/Shia were and are suspect. It tends to be forgotten that Shia Persia was the Ottoman Empire’s great enemy to the east, and if Ottoman officials were not bothered by the alleged heresy of Alevi beliefs and practices, they were bothered that Alevis might be a kind of fifth column for the Shah of Persia. Erdogan’s rants about the “foreign-focused” have a long history.

  14. Uebersetzer says

    There are rumours that Erdogan himself is descended from Georgians who had accepted Sunni Islam and fled to Turkey to escape Tsarism. I don’t know if it is true, as Turkish political life is xenophobic enough to see that kind of ancestry as negative – ie. not totally Turkish.

  15. Uebersetzer says
  16. Greasy William says

    I agree, it was a very good comment.

    To their credit, Muslim countries are really good at assimilating large amounts of foreigners as long as those foreigners are Muslims. I don’t see a lot of Syrians settling in Turkey, but if they do they will be totally Turkified by the 2nd generation.

  17. Uebersetzer says

    Opposition website Oda TV (people running it were charged with various offences but recently acquitted) accuses Cem Kucuk, a very noisy and controversial Erdogan fan, of being a secret Fethullah Gulen supporter.
    Could be true – the sycophants often have something to hide.

  18. Uebersetzer says

    I’m not so sure in relation to Turkey. Ethnic Turks sometimes have a superiority complex towards non-Turks, and foreign origins sometimes get recalled, in an unfavourable way, to the crack of doom. For example, centuries ago a Jewish sect, followers of Sabbatai Zevi, converted to Islam. They are still referred to as Donme (“turners” – a slightly pejorative term). Claims are still made that they are secret Jews, Israeli agents etc.

  19. Perhaps other Islamic nations whose core identity is based around being Muslim like Pakistan could absorb other Muslims, as Uebersetzer has said, I think Turkish nationalism can and will override any feelings of pan-Islamic identity, even with 2nd generation Syrians.

    Here in Australia for example, the Lebanese Muslims we have tend to focus more on the national aspect of their identity rather then the religious one, though I think Arabs are more likely to be pan-Islamic, since Islam can serve as somewhat of a substitute for Arab nationalism, I don’t think it is a coincidence that as pan-Arabic nationalism has declined, Islamic nationalism has risen.

  20. Ali Choudhury says

    Pakistan took in 3 million Afghan refugees in the 80s while Iran took in 2 million. There are still over 1 million Afghans in Pakistan. Official policy is to encourage as many to return to Afghanistan as possible, it is pretty much impossible for them to become naturalised. They are seen as being unskilled labour who compete for resources and jobs with citizens as well as a source of terrorism and criminality.

    Assimilation was pretty easy as the bulk of Afghans arriving were Pathans and they moved to a province that was largely Pathan by ethnicity.

  21. Uebersetzer says

    There is definite social hostility towards Syrian refugees, especially in southern Turkey. It may even have had an impact on the referendum, increasing the willingness of people of a Turkish nationalist disposition to vote No, especially in Mersin but also Hatay province, and probably elsewhere. To the extent that it was a referendum on Erdogan and the AKP’s popularity, there are some sobering aspects for them in the results.

  22. Bonjour Monsieur,

    Perhaps we should remember…

    Why? What do centuries-old predations of the Ottomans into Southern Europe have to do with this topic? Anymore than the record of the British Empire should be dragged into a discussion about Brexit?

    I may be in the minority here, but do people (as a result of this vote) really see Ankara marching upon Budapest with a vanguard of elite special forces derived from enslaved Christian soldiers that were gathered along the way?


  23. Hey Ali,

    From what I’ve read, Iran did it way better and more orderly:
    “The Soviet War in Afghanistan displaced six million people to neighbouring Iran and Pakistan in 1979. Almost four decades later, the Tehran government still shelters around one million registered Afghans, and up to two million are thought to also be living in the country – making Iran home to the world’s fourth largest refugee population.”
    “‘The leadership demonstrated by the Iranian government has been exemplary in hosting refugees and keeping borders open,’ Sivanka Dhanapala, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Tehran, told AFP on Wednesday. ”

    Maybe Turkey can look to Iran for guidance on this important issue.

    But you are right about the Afghans in Pakistan, the ones that stayed in NWFP area were easier to absorb. From what I’ve read, many of the Afghans moving into areas of Sindh and other places have brought trouble. Also confirmed by relatives.


  24. Hey Greasy,

    To their credit, Muslim countries are really good at assimilating large amounts of foreigners as long as those foreigners are Muslims.

    It is truly a blessing that Muslim countries have been given an opportunity to be tested regarding their claims to brotherhood and many have performed well:

    they will be totally Turkified by the 2nd generation

    Possibly. Though, as you know with regards to the Circassians (even in Israel), they have been able to keep a unique identity together for quite some time. I think geographic cohesion is absolutely key. If they are able to settle into areas where they are predominant, then it will be OK. If they are scattered, then for sure, they will be absorbed into the wider culture.

    Which, coming from a Muslim perspective, is fine as long as the religion stays intact. Once in a while in Syria you’ll come across a name like Dehlawi or Maghrebi and you know the family originally came from India, Morocco, etc. and completely went native. In fact, the Syrians may deepen the faith of the communities they settle in. Syrians are no joke, they have often supplied and preserved the core of our spiritual and legal tradition.


  25. Hey Ueber,

    not totally Turkish

    No one is totally Turkish. With all their claims about Turkish identity, the Turks are mutts – big time. Even the Ottoman elite were basically White Europeans – for hundreds of years the sultans would have children with European concubines (Polish, Venetian, Greek, etc.) who became their heirs.


  26. Uebersetzer says

    This Michael Rubin assertion, prompted by the outpourings of a pro-Erdogan thug named Peker, has been reported today in the Turkish media. If there is a traffic in assassins betwixt Turkey and Europe, it is as likely to be directed towards Erdogan as directed by him. Anyway the cold war with Europe does not seem to be ending as Erdogan is accusing the OSCE of being PKK terrorists.

  27. Hey Ueber,

    Although this applied more if they were Sunni

    Absolutely. The Safavids were rivals to the Ottoman claims for leadership of the Muslim world – and often had the same antagonistic policies toward the Sunnis in their midst.

    Erdogan’s rants about the “foreign-focused” have a long history.

    Turkey must find her way. The Ottomans were the most long-lasting dynasty in human history – 600+ years. And there are still people alive today that actually remember hearing about its downfall which was no doubt the result of an international effort to bring down the ‘sick man of Europe’. This continued with Western support for ‘the generals’ and even a recent coup attempt. They have a right to be a bit paranoid.

    As far as the delusions of grandeur, this will perhaps take a generation or two more to completely be purged. I’m sure the Macedonians remember fondly their successful run which took them from Europe to Africa and even into India…


  28. Uebersetzer says

    The Grey Wolves types are into racial purity and the alleged superiority of the Turkish race, and a toxic xenophobia underlies statements by a wide range of Turkish politicians and spokesmen, including Erdogan but not limited to him.
    In fact Turkey is very ethnically mixed. Swarthy Mediterranean types are the most common but there are plenty of fair-skinned people, especially on the Black Sea, and especially in parts of Central Anatolia you will see people who look like Mongolians.

  29. Uebersetzer says

    Sometimes there was concern the Sick Man was collapsing too fast and that this was undesirable. This was what the Crimean War was about. Britain and France worried about Russia becoming too powerful and sometimes propped the late Ottoman Empire up.
    Erdogan is a paranoid tyrant but they almost certainly are out to get him, and the referendum did not in my view strengthen his hand.
    I don’t think Trump is going to be any better for him than Obama was.

  30. Hey Ueber,

    Sometimes there was concern the Sick Man was collapsing too fast

    Good point. Rarely is history ever black and white.

    Another episode that comes to mind is the earlier complete and utter destruction of the French invasion fleet at the hands of the British on the Nile Delta. Sent Napoleon’s ultimate dreams of keeping Egypt and the Levant up in smoke.

    When the Brits wanted ‘favorable trading rights’ with an empire, well, you better give them some elbow room…

    As far as Erdogan, I have not liked the direction he has been going since around 2010. I especially do not like the intimidation or outright manipulation of the voting. Well, he has two sons. Ultimately, we’ll know if he is setting himself up as a pasha if one of his boys is eventually groomed to lead Turkey. In that way it will be a lot like the other Middle Eastern countries like Saddam’s Iraq or Assad’s Syria – which are family dynasties in all but name.


  31. A few more parallels…occurring now in Russia apparently…

    “It’s official. Jehovah’s Witnesses can no longer practice their faith freely in Russia, where the Supreme Court on Thursday declared the pacifist religious organization an ‘extremist group’ and banned all of its activity.
    The judge ordered all 395 local chapters and its Russian headquarters to close and authorized the government to seize all property. Under the ruling, distributing copies of the Watchtower, discussing their beliefs in public, or even worshipping at a meeting hall has become a crime.”

    Disband heretic – the true path demands it!


  32. Well, he has two sons. Ultimately, we’ll know if he is setting himself up as a pasha if one of his boys is eventually groomed to lead Turkey.

    Neither of them would be capable of that. Maybe only his daughter Sümeyye could do that.

  33. Bonjour Monsieur,

    Maybe only his daughter Sümeyye could do that.

    Not likely if Turkey is going down a more traditional Islamic trajectory. Plus, they tried that a while back…utter failure:
    “The excessive interference of the harem women in state politics was instrumental in the decline and fall of the empire. Ironically, such meddling began during the reign of Suleyman the Magnifıcent, the most powerful period in the empire’s history (1520-66).”

    Capable women with good character are an absolute cornerstone of a society – but they don’t need to be head of state to prove their worth.


  34. Uebersetzer says

    Disappearances were a feature of the 1990s (sometimes bodies with signs of torture would be found a few days, weeks or months later) and it looks like they are making a comeback.
    At least one of the cases listed precedes the failed coup.

  35. Uebersetzer says

    Wikileaks in 2010 published something about Western diplomats finding AKP officials to be both ignorant and corrupt, so it may have been a straw in the wind. The government became more openly repressive from c.2012 onwards, the following year there was Gezi.
    Relations with the Kurds seemed in general to be improving, amid talk of a “solution”, until July 2015.
    He does seem to be trying to groom family members, but I think it will fail. Erdogan is the most charismatic figure in Turkish politics (I despise him but none of his opponents, with the possible exception of Demirtas, have any charisma), but his sons just look like the nepotistic parasites they indeed are. His daughter is a little more able but a woman is a poor sell to the conservative rural villagers who are the AKP’s base.

  36. Uebersetzer says

    I encountered a Turkish Jehovah’s Witness in Istanbul years ago. He was a real pain, although arguing with him was good for developing my Turkish-language skills.

  37. Uebersetzer says

    When the Americans landed in Seoul, Korea in September 1945, the only people they found who looked sort of European were Turkish shopkeepers, there was a small Turkish community there at the time. But they spoke no English.