Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Turkey Votes for Dictatorship by less than 1.5%

On Sunday April 16, Turkey held a referendum on constitutional amendments which would give President Erdogan virtually unlimited powers. The Yes vote won by about 51.4 to 48.6. American press has been covering it better than I expected, especially since Trump phoned to congratulate him while the rest of the world leaders did not.

Erdogan, like Putin, took no chances on an unfavourable result. OSCE has declared the vote far short of democratic as the NO side was given far less opportunity to present their case and were targeted by state institutions as anti-Turkish and terrorists. Leaders were arrested, rallies broken up, provinces declared state of emergency, NGOs were prevented from campaigning, and Kurds had a very difficult time voting. And unstamped ballots were allowed. Erdogan told the OSCE to pack salt.

The opposition parties intend to challenge the count, not that it will help as Erdogan controls the courts and appoints the judges.  Even if he had lost, it would have made no difference as he had de facto seized these powers already in the crack-down following the attempted coup last year which saw some 50,000 people arrested and over 100,000 fired from their jobs. Expect to see these numbers rise as Erdogan takes revenge on the leadership of the NO side.  He has always treated the 48% who oppose him as enemies of the state.

Erdogan is a pious Muslim but he is also an authoritarian in his own right.  He is not driven by radical Islam but by the belief that only his vision for Turkey is the right one and that nothing will stop him.  Anyone who tries is automatically an enemy.  He lost the vote in the three largest cities, Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, home to more secular Turks, but won the support of the pious Muslims throughout the country. His party, AKP, gave these people a voice in Turkish politics for the first time and brought them into the economy in the first 10 years as Prime Minister.

Turkey has always had a tenuous grip on democracy.  Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (Turkey's Lenin, as our tour guide called him) was no democrat.  The military saw itself as the defender of Ataturk's secular Turkey and intervened several times, usually none too gently to put it kindly, when the government was viewed as swinging too far into religious ideology.  The West, which can never leave well enough alone, did not see this as a good thing and supported Erdogan when he took steps early on to bring the generals to heel.  So by the time last summer's abortive coup was organized, it was too late and the army supported Erdogan, as did a majority of the population.

Erdogan is no fan of Ataturk and sees himself more as the Sultan of a revived 'Ottoman Empire'.  Instead of pressing to join the EU, under Erdogan Turkey will become the leader of the Middle East countries and act as a gateway to Europe (which in my opinion makes far more sense as Turkey is NOT European). As Sultan, in his 1000 room White Palace in Ankara, he will have the power of life and death over his subjects.  Literally, if he brings back the death penalty as he is in favour of.

One more country has turned its back on democracy.

Erdogan Lashes Out At European Monitors Of Turkey's Referendum

The vote that will determine the fate of Turkey’s democracy 

Turkey is sliding into dictatorship

Is It Too Late for Turkey’s Democracy?


  1. "We have our ways...." says Mr Erdogan, with a smile.

    1. Putin isn't the only one who murders, beats, or jails journalists. Turkey holds the record for the most journalists in prison.

  2. The current outbursts of fascism (Brexit, USA, Turkey) are voted in by simple and questionable majorities, because there is no way supermajorities would support them; there are too many minorities who are targeted by them. We are in a situation where 51% of a country votes to oppress 49%.

    This is not democracy in any meaningful sense.

    1. Add to that list Hungary, Poland, Slovakia. . . People take rights and freedom for granted and forget that the work gets done by those who show up, so they lose their rights and freedoms a little and a little, taken in by demagogues.

  3. You nailed it in your comment above "they lose their rights and freedoms a little and a little". I read a similar account from someone (can't remember the author now) who had lived through the rise of the Nazis in Germany. The author said people would have fought if the changes had been forced on them all at once, but they were eased in with a seemingly-innocuous alteration here; an "it's for your own good" there; until the rights and freedoms had been curtailed to the point where the takeover was fait accompli. How many times do we have to repeat history before we learn?

    1. Look at what Americans now accept from airport shakedowns, National Security Agency intelligence gathering on everyone, police who are there to control the people, not crime. It did not happen overnight. It was well underway when 9/11 happened which gave it a big push. Soon it may be too late to back away.


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