Kemal Atatürk must be spinning in his grave, for his people have narrowly given Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s Islamist President, a victory in a referendum vote. I’m leaving New Zealand in a few hours, and won’t bother you with the details (see them at the New York Times), but the referendum expands Erdogan’s powers, making this odious man even more of a tyrant than he is. As the Times notes:
The constitutional change, if it stands, will allow the winner of the 2019 presidential election to assume full control of the government, ending the current parliamentary political system.
The ramifications, however, would be immediate. The “yes” vote in the referendum would be a validation of the current leadership style of Mr. Erdogan, who has been acting as a de facto head of government since his election in 2014 despite having no constitutional right to wield such power. The office of the president was meant to be an impartial role that lacks full executive authority.
The result would tighten Mr. Erdogan’s grip on the country, which is one of the leading external actors in the Syrian civil war, a major way station along the migration routes to Europe and a crucial Middle Eastern partner of the United States and Russia.
And the changes allow Erdogan to be president for up to 15 more years! From the NYT:
The new system will, among other changes:
• Abolish the post of prime minister and transfer executive power to the president.
• Allow the newly empowered president to issue decrees and appoint many of the judges and officials responsible for scrutinizing his decisions.
• Limit the president to two five-year terms, but give the option of running for a third term if Parliament truncates the second one by calling for early elections.
• Allow the president to order disciplinary inquiries into any of Turkey’s 3.5 million civil servants, according to an analysis by the head of the Turkish Bar Association.
When I first heard this I thought, “Well. the Turkish people are now going to get what they deserve,” but then I remembered Donald Trump, whom nobody deserves, and I also suspect that reports of rigged voting in Turkey are correct. And I remembered my progressive Turkish friends, and how horrified they must be today.
Why would people in a democracy vote against that democracy? I don’t know enough about Turkish politics to speculate.