A slim majority of Turkish voters agreed over the weekend on the referendum, giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers. But, new reports reveal that the vote’s legitimacy is being questioned.
The referendum would radically change Turkey’s government, by abolishing the Prime Minister role and changing the parliamentary currently in place. This comes just eight months after a coup attempt to take over Erdogan’s government.
“With nearly 99 percent of votes in a referendum counted on Sunday night, supporters of the proposal had 51.3 percent of votes cast, and opponents had 48.7 percent, the country’s electoral commission announced,” writes the New York Times. “The result will take days to confirm, and the main opposition party said it would demand a recount of about 37 percent of ballot boxes, containing around 2.5 million votes.”
The outcome of the vote just demonstrates how divided the political divisions in Turkey are.
Obviously, Erdogan applauded the result and welcomed his victory.
“We are enacting the most important governmental reform of our history,” said Erdogan in front a crowd of supporters Sunday night.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim expressed similar sentiments.
"We are brothers. We are one body, one nation," said Yildirim at the ruling party's headquarters in Ankara. "A new page has opened in our democratic history with this vote. Be sure that we will use this result for our people's welfare and peace in the best way."
In the last year, Turkey has been in a state of political chaos. The country has been under a state of emergency since last summer. The government has fired and or suspended over 130,000 people suspected of being involved somehow in the failed coup. Another 45,000 have been arrested.
Not to mention, Erdogan’s relationship with Europe are tense. He has recently compared both Germany and the Netherlands to Nazi Germany for not being allowed to campaign in these countries.
Now Turkey’s president will have much more control.
“The changes allow the president to appoint ministers, senior government officials and half the members of Turkey's highest judicial body, as well as to issue decrees and declare states of emergency. They set a limit of two five-year terms for presidents and also allow the president to remain at the helm of a political party,” writes Newsmax.
“It represents a remarkable aggrandizement of Erdogan’s personal power and quite possibly a death blow to vital checks and balances in the country,” said Howard Eissenstat, professor and Turkey expert at the Project on Middle East Democracy, a Washington research group. “Judicial independence was already shockingly weak before the referendum; the new system makes that worse.”
Again, voter fraud may have been an issue. At least three cases of alleged voter fraud have been caught on camera.
“We are receiving thousands of complaints on election fraud,” said Erdal Aksunger, the deputy head of the the C.H.P., the Republican People’s Party. “We are evaluating them one by one.”
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe have both heavily criticized the campaign
"In general, the referendum did not live up to Council of Europe standards," said Cezar Florin Preda, head of the Council of Europe delegation.
“The monitors also criticized a late change by electoral officials that allowed voting papers without official stamps to be counted. They said this move "removed an important safeguard and were contested by the opposition,” writes the BBC. “But the head of Turkey's electoral body, Sadi Guven, said the unstamped ballot papers had been produced by the High Electoral Board and were valid. He said a similar procedure had been used in past elections.”
Erdogan rejected these reports and said that Turkey did not "see, hear or acknowledge the politically motivated reports."
Author’s note: Turkish citizens should be afraid. Erdogan is on a quest for power. He has purged the government of anyone against him already and now will have even more control to do what he wants with the government. He has made himself and his country a soon-to-be enemy of Europe and is encouraging actions by Muslims in European countries. Could Turkey become the new Caliphate?
Editor's note: Perhaps the entire world should be afraid.