The Guardian reports: The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has claimed victory in a historic referendum on a package of constitutional amendments that will grant him sweeping new powers.
However, disparities persisted into Sunday evening, with the opposition saying not all ballots had been counted and they would contest a third of the votes that had been cast.
If confirmed, the result of the referendum will set the stage for a transformation of the upper echelons of the state and change the country from a parliamentary democracy to a presidential republic, arguably the most important development in the country’s history since it was founded on the ashes of the Ottoman Republic.
Erdogan said he would immediately discuss reinstating the death penalty in talks with the prime minister and the nationalist opposition leader, Devlet Bahceli. The president said he would take the issue to referendum if necessary. [Continue reading…]
Simon Waldman writes: One rule of thumb in a healthy referendum is that the voting public should be asked a clear and concise question with a simple yes or no answer.
On Sunday, when 55 million eligible Turkish voters went to the polls in a nationwide referendum about constitutional changes that would effectively transform Turkey’s parliamentary system to an executive presidency, there was no question on the ballot. There was just a paper slip with the option Yes or No.
The Yes camp of current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared victory – albeit a very narrow one.
The lack of a question on the ballot is just one example of the deficiencies, irregularities and misconduct during the whole process. Meanwhile, the manner in which the election took place was grossly unfair.
Since the failed military coup of July last year, Turkey remains under an extended state of emergency. Not only did this allow Mr. Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party government to purge hundreds of thousands of civil servants from the state bureaucracy, but it also hurt the No campaign. It allowed the government to ban public rallies at a whim and make an emergency decree to allow private broadcasters to disproportionately air Yes campaign material without penalty.
The naysayers had no chance; they were playing with loaded dice. [Continue reading…]