The Turkish referendum took place in a rather predictable way given the recent history of detention of opposition, journalists and civil servants (numbering over 140,000¹ at most recent report) in the wake of a coup whose authenticity¹ has been questioned also. And despite observers being invited¹ to guard against voter fraud¹, many questions have been raised. Though not enough for some.
Since the alleged attempted coup in Turkey, Erdogan’s government had been placing tighter restrictions on opposition in all walks of life. From party members to civil servants and beyond, many have been rounded up and arrested for their ties to what the Turkish government calls, a ‘terrorist organization’, or rather support for an exiled opposition leader. As journalists have also been arrested (some from foreign news services¹), the world’s governments have stood by and done little but offer criticism of the Erdogan regime.
The recent referendum in Turkey effectively gives Erdogan near unlimited power with virtually no safeguards. And with the ability to dissolve parliament at a whim, it also means he could in essence become the new sultan of Turkey. In short, Turkey will likely become a dictatorship¹. Though apparently Erdogan wanted to ensure that the referendum would be legitimate, and seen internationally as such. To that end, international observers were invited into the country to ensure that no fraud in the vote was taking place. When questions were raised about the vote which may call the result into question, Erdogan responded swiftly by ignoring¹ the international observers and claiming victory. A sentiment echoed by the electoral board¹ despite discrepancies.
Opposition members and others against the vote have taken to the streets to protest¹ the power grab and stand against what some are seeing as an outright fraudulent¹ process. International monitors have joined in that sentiment, citing irregularities in the ballots and missing safeguards such as missing stamps¹. Opposition parties have called for an annulment¹ of the vote, and others have called for a recount of up to 60%¹ of the votes. The entire campaign has been criticized too, with opposition voices often silenced¹ and Turkish officials equating a ‘no’ vote with terrorism. Erdogan himself has decried opposition and international monitors, claiming it’s ‘too late¹‘ to change the result and the opposition as well as monitors should “know their place¹“.
With an incredible amount of power up for grabs, it would be important to show that everything truly is legitimate in the referendum. However what has been seen over anything is a referendum described as ‘neither fair nor free¹‘, one that does not meet international standards¹ and one that is contested as well by being conducted unequally¹ from conception to the vote tally. Despite the criticism¹ and allegations of electoral manipulation¹*, Erdogan has naturally continued on with assuming power.
Despite all of this with current protests¹ and occurrences in the last few months alone, leaders from Europe and the US President¹ have validated the questionable election after speaking with Erdogan. With some encouraging ‘respectful dialogue¹‘ with the same man who not only spent the last few months calling them Nazis¹ and attempting to blackmail¹ with migrants’, but also instructing his citizens not to integrate¹ and instead to take over European countries¹.
Ultimately much of this situation appears as a joke. With the EU rejecting votes when it doesn’t suit them and “allies” such as Turkey allegedly annexing¹ Syrian land, it’s little wonder that few questions are seriously being raised with the newest dictator on the doorstep of Europe. And with the death penalty¹ being the next thing Erdogan wants to bring back, Turkey might not be able to join the EU¹, but Erdogan could certain remove any and all remaining opposition to his rule by labeling it as ‘terrorism’ in a state of emergency. Weak leaders will only stand for their own interests and refuse to learn from history. The world’s inaction on autocracy while screaming to the heavens of democracy will do little but see their own downfall. One capitulation after another.
*Alternate language source.