Turkey Vote in Favor of More Authoritarianism Was Not Free or Fair, Natch

Country has been in a state of emergency since last June, while President Erdogan likened European leaders to Nazis.



Voters in Turkey narrowly approved a constitutional referendum that will transform Turkey's parliamentary system into a presidential system—the victory for President Recep Erdogan solidifies a slide into authoritarianism he began more than a decade ago, an authoritarian slide which itself enabled the victory in the first place.

The set of reforms in the referendum legalize "the de facto executive presidency that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is already exercising," Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of Teneo Intelligence, explained in a pre-election briefing shared with Reason. "In addition, it will grant him a vast number of additional powers that currently belong to other state institutions, without introducing the necessary checks and balances required to safeguard against a further authoritarian turn."

The Turkish government is unlikely to try to begin normalizing its domestic policy despite the victory because of the slim margin. Piccoli explained such a margin furthers the risk of the repression. "Similarly, long promised and overdue structural economic reforms will most likely fail to materialize over the next 12 months as the harmonization of laws and institutions with the new executive presidency will take priority."

"A pervading climate of fear and siege mentality are now deeply instilled in Turkish society and mounting concerns about vote rigging could deepen polarization and grievances," Piccoli said.

Indeed, election monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe complained of an "unlevel playing field" and last minute voting rules changes.

"Voters were not provided with impartial information about key aspects of the reform, and civil society organizations were not able to participate," the OSCE said in its statement. "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."

For his part, Erdogan told opponents to give it up and stop "tiring themselves out" by challenging the referendum results (they did)—the Yes vote received 51.4 percent of the vote, and was pushed to victory in part by Turks voting abroad. According to state media, 63.1 percent of Turkish voters in Germany supported the referendum.

Erdogan had resorted in the past month to comparing European leaders in Germany and elsewhere to Nazis for refusing to approve Turkish government-sponsored rallies in favor of the referendum in their countries. Turkey and Germany are both NATO members, although the constitutional results will likely halt whatever's left of Turkey's process of joining the European Union.

Erdogan himself has suggested holding a referendum on whether Turkey should continue the 50-plus year process that came to a virtual stand-still shortly after accession talks officially began in 2005 when France and Austria promised to put Turkey's membership bid to a referendum vote themselves. EU officials have been warning the lack of political reforms in Turkey could cause talks to end in a "train crash" as early as 2007.

Erdogan also said President Trump called to congratulate him on his victory.

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  1. “Similarly, long promised and overdue structural economic reforms will most likely fail to materialize over the next 12 months as the harmonization of laws and institutions with the new executive presidency will take priority.”

    I’m glad the United States isn’t in that situation.

  2. Authoritarians are such fucking pussies. Always looking for a daddy to suck up to. It’s fucking pathetic. They make me sick.

    1. What amazes me is how all dictators, from ancient kings to clear nutjobs like Pol Pot, the Nork family, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, all of them, recognize they need a fig leaf to appear legitimate. Has there ever been even a single dictator who simply did what he wanted? Maybe Pharoahs? Any who, instead of simply telling underlings what to do, actually write up decrees in faux-legal language, sometimes even retaining a rubber stamp legislature?

      1. Pharoahs had the priests

        1. Good catch. I had forgotten that ancient rulers were part of the theocracy.

      2. Some have tried, but they rarely lasted long. Most of those smart enough to actually grab power realize that they need at least some semblance of legitimacy. Kings and emperors called it “divine right”. Communist and Fascist strongmen both like to talk about the “will of the people”. In either case, though, those who held onto power for very long were those tacitly recognized limits to their power, however absolute they might claim it to be. Kings needed the support of their noblemen; monarchs who chopped off too many of the wrong heads tended to get the chop themselves. Or else monarchs gathered the support of the common people by casting themselves as the protector of the commoners against the abuses of the nobles. Dictators who seize power by coup de main are usually careful to play their subordinates off against each other, so that no single follower can grow strong enough to challenge them.

  3. “Voters were not provided with impartial information about key aspects of the reform, and civil society organizations were not able to participate,” the OSCE said in its statement.

    Here is a rough translation of the actual referendum:

    Should the Constitution be amended to require Turkish remakes of all Hollywood blockbusters, but especially any Star Wars movies, to build a new national oil wrestling stadium, and also that other thing Erdogan mentioned?

  4. I don’t know why it should stop them from joining the EU; it’s the entirely predictable end result of the demands that the EU made on Turkey in the late 1990s.

    1. Besides, it should be good practice in joining the EU, where some bland bureaucrat stationed in Brussels can tell you what to do anyway,

  5. one time i stood up to the sun as a little man in shitty diapers
    and a table fell on my head because the earthen spirits are so
    fucking molecular and shit…
    and my little head bled out red rivers and i decided to
    paddled down a river of my cut little head and then
    a hole so mysterious arose and my little man brain
    purchased a dream ticket into this fuck all adults
    version of reality and the bottom dropped and I
    ate pussy for months and ate wars on bowls of salads
    prepared by strange creatures not made by this planet
    and slides into the dense neon were constructed
    on the dead crushed skeletons of a thousand
    poets whirring the screams of odd dimensional shifts?

  6. one time my look took a look
    left of a nook
    and that nook looked
    one time at a nook
    where dragons flapping fucking
    wings rested in a kaintucky
    ultra green valley while agile
    sat smoking sum sweet shit
    with his gentle svelte lord
    Rand Paul the delirious
    magician of socrates

  7. agile never met Rand Paul
    but my raft always
    spread the soft concrete
    of the Washington dreams
    of star dome spent lines
    where breads and kneeling
    bums get warm behind
    weeds and cast-off fuck you
    blankets and letters stamped
    with old singers crooning
    behind cemetery deaths

  8. my fingers bend
    on a porch where
    an old queen dies

  9. Islam has to Islamize the government. Even in a country that was determined to keep it separate by its founder.

    So let’s invite more here. Worked so well for Europe.

  10. No vote that isn’t unanimous and attended by all voters is *fair*.

    Look at Austin Texas – through out Uber because 51% of 15% of the voters said so. Democracy makes slaves of us all.

  11. Turkey Vote in Favor of More Authoritarianism Was Not Free or Fair, NATURALLY.

    This isn’t fucking Buzzfeed. Use proper English. Do not appreviate stupid words.

    If I ever see the words “slay” or “clap back” in a headline at Reason I am immediately cancelling my subscription.

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