Erdogan’s victory in referendum

TEHRAN, Apr. 19 (MNA) – Turkish people voted in a referendum which could greatly impact their future. A victory for the ‘Yes’ campaign means that the office of the prime minister shall be abolished in favor of more executive powers for the currently largely ceremonial position of the president.

The reforms changed Turkey’s parliamentarian system into a presidential one; the office of the prime minister would be removed; the president would appoint the cabinet and an undefined number of vice-presidents, and would be able to select and remove senior civil servants without parliamentary approval.

The changes would also potentially keep Recep Tayyip Erdogan in power until 2029.

** ‘Nay-sayers’

On April 15, Erdogan censured the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for reporting that "no" campaigners in Turkey's upcoming referendum on extending presidential powers have faced crackdown by Ankara.

“Now the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe says if the result is ‘yes’, that means there are a lot of problems. Who are you? First of all, you should know your place. This is not your duty”, said Erdogan in a strongly-worded speech at a rally in Konya, the capital city of the Turkish province of Konya.

Erdogan's comments referred to a recent interim report published by the OSCE, which will monitor the April 16 referendum, on the campaign atmosphere in the Anatolian country between March 17 and April 7. The report concluded that "no" supporters had faced bans, police interventions, violent scuffles at their events and arrests in several cases.

It also alleged that Ankara's senior officials, including Erdogan himself and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, equated "no" campaigners with the mid-July 2016 failed coup plotters or terrorist organizations, noting that the referendum would be conducted under an extended state of emergency imposed following the attempted putsch.

** “Thirst for power”

A senior analyst with Foreign Policy in Focus Ian Williams believes that Erdogan has arranged the referendum only to satisfy his thirst for power and consolidate his position as president, PressTV wrote.

“It is going to give him [Erdogan] absolute power. He is showing increasing signs of power hunger and one might almost say megalomania over the last few years. This [referendum] would consolidate the presidency as a token figure even if he controls the actual party that dominates the parliament. So, what he wants now is to consolidate it,” he noted.

According to Williams, subjecting a country’s constitution to such a fundamental change requires consensus among all segments of the society, and a Yes/No referendum does not seem to be the appropriate apparatus for bringing about that change.

“I am not convinced about referendum as a means of affecting change. Because the only answer is yes or no. And the real question here is not why they're going to change the constitution. It is going to abrogate any constitutional responsibility for the president,” the analyst said.

** “Unlevel playing field”

The Turkish referendum on presidential powers took place on an “unlevel playing field” and in a political environment where fundamental freedoms were curtailed, European observers have said.

The observer mission said voting had proceeded in a largely orderly fashion on Sunday, but it criticized as illegal a controversial last-minute decision by the country’s election board to count unstamped ballots, saying this lifted an important safeguard against fraud, Guardian reported.

“The 16 April constitutional referendum took place on an unlevel playing field and the two sides of the campaign did not have equal opportunities,” said the preliminary report of the mission, a combined effort of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Pace) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

“Under the state of emergency put in place after the July 2016 failed coup attempt, fundamental freedoms essential to a genuinely democratic process were curtailed.”

** Installing dictatorship

The referendum was marred by divisive rhetoric, with the government equating no voters with terrorist groups and the opposition accusing the ruling party of seeking to install a dictatorship.

Since Erdogan declared victory in the referendum, protests have been held in the country.  

On April 19, Turkish police detained 16 leftist activists involved in protests against the result of a recent referendum on the expansion of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers; Press TV quoted a lawyer as saying.

The Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) said police detained its Istanbul chairman, Mesut Gecgel, on the accusation of "agitating the public" by claiming that the win for the 'Yes' campaign was illegitimate.

The head of the left-wing ODP movement, which is not represented in the Turkish parliament, had himself said in a message on Twitter that he was being detained for demonstrating against the 'Yes' victory.

Deniz Demirdogen, Gecgel's lawyer, said anti-terror police raided the houses of suspects in Istanbul in the early hours of Wednesday, adding that 16 people had been detained so far but arrest warrants had been issued for a total of 38 people.

Demirdogen said the accusation was "strange", adding, "they are accused of provoking people to question the legitimacy of the 'Yes' in the referendum."

"But there's no such crime definition in the penal code," the lawyer said.

Demirdogen said the 16 detainees were being questioned by police and were awaiting a decision by prosecutors on the case.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s two main opposition parties officially submitted an appeal against the referendum results.

Representatives of the Republican People's Party and the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party presented their applications to the Supreme Electoral Council in Ankara on Tuesday (April 18).

**Trump’s congratulatory message

Following Erdogan’s controversial triumph, U.S. President Donald Trump has called his Turkish counterpart, to congratulate him on victory in a referendum that boosts his power and plays a key role in the future of the country and the rest of the region.

Trump’s congratulatory tone appears to run counter to an earlier statement by the State Department, asserting that the referendum took place in an environment where “fundamental freedoms essential to a genuinely democratic process were curtailed.”

HIGHLIGHTS:

The Turkish referendum on presidential powers took place on an “unlevel playing field” and in a political environment where fundamental freedoms were curtailed, European observers have said.

The referendum was marred by divisive rhetoric, with the government equating no voters with terrorist groups and the opposition accusing the ruling party of seeking to install a dictatorship.

Anti-terror police raided the houses of suspects in Istanbul in the early hours of Wednesday, detaining 16 people so far while arrest warrants had been issued for a total of 38 people.

News Code 125522

Tags

Your Comment

You are replying to: .
  • 1 + 2 =