President Erdogan of Turkey “survived” a suspicious coup and poorly conducted coup in July of last year, which exposed his opposition and provided the pretext for inserting “his people” into key mid and upper level positions in government and the judiciary.
Now he’s claiming victory in a referendum which will strengthen his ever-tightening grip on power, abolishing much of the power sharing by eliminating the Prime Minister and curtailing the powers of Parliament. BBC stated Turkey’s “judicial independence has plummeted,” and their press freedom ranks 151 of 180 countries. They cite Reporters Without Borders, as saying, “an all-powerful president would spell the death knell of democracy.”
Erdogan’s opponents have denounced the nation’s slide towards authoritarianism under his rule, which now includes the distinction of being the world’s largest jailer of journalists, with more than 140,000 people having been arrested, dismissed or suspended since the failed coup of last year.
What’s making matters much worse, is that the appearance of election fraud has now become part of the debate over the results. The thin margin of victory of 51.5% was aided by the inclusion of 3 million unstamped, uncertified ballots into the totals.
Upon the strength of the objection to the inclusion of those ballots, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, vowed to would demand a recount of up to 60 percent of the votes.
On Monday they called on the electoral board to cancel the results of the referendum. In an address to reporters at their Ankara headquarters, Bulent Tezcan, the deputy leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), declared, “There is only one decision to ease the situation in the context of the law — the Supreme Election Board (YSK) should annul the election.”
He added, “This poll, which followed a principle of ‘open vote but secret count’ will find a place in the dark pages of our history. This is not a text of social consensus but one of social division. There is a serious and solid problem of legitimacy that will forever be debated.”
CHP chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu said, “The Higher Election Board has thrown a shadow on the people’s decision. They have caused the referendum’s legitimacy to be questioned.”
Of course Erdogan expected resistance to his power grab, that’s nothing new, he been meeting with a lot of resistance as he navigates his way towards supreme leader status. The question seems to be whether this sparks the uprising that can finish what the failed coup started or if it’s the end of self-governance in Turkey and a very dangerous situation for this strategically important nation.
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