Erdogan Wins Narrow Referendum Victory, Laying Bare Turkey’s Divisions | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


Erdogan Wins Narrow Referendum Victory, Laying Bare Turkey’s Divisions

Supporters of Tayyip Erdogan waved flags in the streets while opponents banged pots and pans in protest in their homes, after a narrow referendum victory gave the Turkish president sweeping powers and laid the nation’s divisions bare.

The referendum will bring the biggest overhaul in Turkish politics since the founding of the modern republic, abolishing the post of prime minister and concentrating power in the hands of the president. Unofficial results, which the opposition said it would challenge, showed a narrow victory with 51.4 percent of votes cast in favor.

Yet the procedures used in both the campaign leading up to the referendum as well as on the day of didn’t adhere to international standards and created an “unlevel playing field,” Tana de Zulueta, head of the team of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe observers present in Turkey, said in a news conference Monday.

She noted issues in the process including an absence of civil society observers in many polling stations; police intimation of some “No” sympathizers; a lack of impartial information about both side of the campaign and the fact that the referendum question wasn’t even listed on the ballot.

Erdogan, a populist with a background in once-banned Islamist parties, has ruled since 2003 with no real rival, while his country emerged as one of the fastest-growing industrial powers in both Europe and the Middle East.

He has also been at the center of global affairs, commanding NATO’s second biggest military on the border of Middle East war zones, taking in millions of Syrian refugees and controlling their further flow into Europe.

Erdogan survived a coup attempt last year and responded with a crackdown, jailing 47,000 people and sacking or suspending more than 120,000 from government jobs such as schoolteachers, soldiers, police, judges or other professionals.

The changes could keep him in power until 2029 or beyond, making him easily the most important figure in Turkish history since state founder Kemal Ataturk built a modern nation from the ashes of the Ottoman empire after World War One.

In a signal of the direction he now plans for his nation, Erdogan said he would call a referendum to restore the death penalty, ending once and for all Turkey’s decades-long bid to join the European Union, the impetus for years of reforms

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Through this referendum, the Turkish people have given Erdogan nearly dictatorial powers; and heaven only knows what he will wind up doing with them.

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