Click to Translate to English Click to Translate to French  Click to Translate to Spanish  Click to Translate to German  Click to Translate to Italian  Click to Translate to Japanese  Click to Translate to Chinese Simplified  Click to Translate to Korean  Click to Translate to Arabic  Click to Translate to Russian  Click to Translate to Portuguese


Forum Home Forum Home > General Discussion > General Discussion
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Why is Turkey holding a referendum?
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Online Discussion: Tracking new emerging diseases and the next pandemic.

Why is Turkey holding a referendum?

 Post Reply Post Reply
Author
Message
carbon20 View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group


Joined: April 08 2006
Location: West Australia
Status: Offline
Points: 13836
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Why is Turkey holding a referendum?
    Posted: April 16 2017 at 3:23pm

Why is Turkey holding a referendum?

  • 10 February 2017
  •  
  • From the sectionEurope
Turkeys President Recep Tayyip ErdoganImage copyrightADEM ALTAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A new draft constitution that would significantly increase the powers of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been put to a referendum. Here, the BBC's Turkey correspondent, Mark Lowen, explains why opponents of the bill have fought it every step of the way.

In one brawl, a government MP alleged an opponent bit into his leg. In another, a plant pot was hurled across parliament. A microphone was stolen and used as a weapon. An independent MP handcuffed herself to a lectern, sparking another scuffle. The parliamentary debate on changing Turkey's constitution wasn't a mild affair.

On the surface, it might seem a proposal that would enjoy cross-party consensus: modernising Turkey's constitution that was drawn up at the behest of the once-omnipotent military after the coup of 1980.

But instead it's arguably the most controversial political change in a generation, becoming in effect a referendum on the country's powerful but divisive President Erdogan.

The plan would turn Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential republic. Among the numerous changes:

  • The role of prime minister would be scrapped. The new post of vice president, possibly two or three, would be created.
  • The president would become the head of the executive, as well as the head of state, and retain ties to a political party.
  • He or she would be given sweeping new powers to appoint ministers, prepare the budget, choose the majority of senior judges and enact certain laws by decree.
  • The president alone would be able to announce a state of emergency and dismiss parliament.
  • Parliament would lose its right to scrutinise ministers or propose an enquiry. However, it would be able to begin impeachment proceedings or investigate the president with a majority vote by MPs. Putting the president on trial would require a two-thirds majority.
  • The number of MPs would increase from 550 to 600.
  • Presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on the same day every five years. The president would be limited to two terms.

The government - and, principally, President Erdogan - argue that the reforms would streamline decision-making and avoid the unwieldy parliamentary coalitions that have hamstrung Turkey in the past.

Since the president is no longer chosen by parliament but now elected directly by the people, goes the argument, he or she should not have to contend with another elected leader (the prime minister) to enact laws.

The current system is, they say, holding back Turkey's progress. They even argue that the change could somehow end the extremist attacks that have killed more than 500 people in the past 18 months.

A woman lays flowers by a makeshift memorial in front of the Reina nightclub in IstanbulImage copyrightOZAN KOSE/AFP/GETTY IMAGESImage captionHundreds of people have been killed in attacks in Turkey in the past 18 months

A presidential system is all very well in a country with proper checks and balances like the United States, retort critics, where an independent judiciary has shown itself willing to stand up to Donald Trump and a rigorous free press calls him out on contentious policies.

But in Turkey, where judicial independence has plummeted and which now ranks 151 of 180 countries in the press freedom index of the watchdog Reporters Without Borders, an all-powerful president would spell the death knell of democracy, they say.

Mr Erdogan's opponents already decry his slide to authoritarianism, presiding over the world's biggest jailer of journalists and a country where some 140,000 people have been arrested, dismissed or suspended since the failed coup last year. Granting him virtually unfettered powers, says the main opposition CHP, would "entrench dictatorship".

"The jury is out," says Ahmet Kasim Han, a political scientist from Kadir Has University. "It doesn't look as bad as the opposition paints it and it's definitely not as benevolent as the government depicts it. The real weakness is that in its hurry to pass the reform, the government hasn't really explained the 2,000 laws that would change. So it doesn't look bright, especially with this government's track record."

A boy wearing a Turkish flag in a show of loyalty to the state following the failed coup attempt in July 2015Image copyrightBURAK KARA/GETTY IMAGESImage captionSince the failed coup 140,000 people have been arrested, dismissed or suspended from their jobs

The governing AK Party had to rely on parliamentary votes from the far-right MHP to lead the country to a referendum. For long, the MHP leader, Devlet Bahceli, opposed the presidential system: "The Turkish nation has never allowed a Hitler," he once said, "and it will not allow Erdogan to get away with this," calling it the recipe for "a sultanate without a throne".

But arm-twisting and rumours that he could be offered one of the vice presidential posts has prompted a spectacular U-turn. The question now is whether he can persuade his party to follow. The party's deputy chairman and several local MHP officials have already resigned over Mr Bahceli's stance.

"It seems this is not going Bahceli's way," says Dr Kasim Han. "But the naysayers may not feel able to go against the party culture by contradicting the leader."

Opposition to the reform is led by the centre-left CHP and the pro-Kurdish HDP parties, the latter of which has been portrayed by the government as linked to terrorism. Several of its MPs and the party leaders are now in prison.

Devlet Bahceli, the leader of opposition Nationalist Movement Party, attends the parliamentary session for the debates on a new draft constitution at the Turkish Grand National AssemblyImage copyrightADEM ALTAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGESImage captionDevlet Bahceli, leader of the far right MHP, now supports the proposed constitutional changes

AKP and MHP voters who oppose the reform may feel pressured into voting in favour, so as not to be tarnished as supporting "terrorists", especially since the referendum will take place under the state of emergency imposed after the attempted coup.

"Holding the vote under this state of emergency makes it susceptible to allegations that people don't feel free to say no," says Dr Kasim Han. "It casts a shadow over the outcome."

Polling has been contradictory and Turkish opinion pollsters are notoriously politicised. But all signs point to a very tight race.

With the detail of the constitutional reform impenetrable to many, the referendum has become focused around Mr Erdogan himself: a president who elicits utmost reverence from one side of the country and intense hatred from the other.

The decision as to whether to grant him the powers he's long coveted will determine the political fate of this deeply troubled but hugely important country.

12 monkeys!!!!!
Back to Top
carbon20 View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group


Joined: April 08 2006
Location: West Australia
Status: Offline
Points: 13836
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 16 2017 at 3:25pm

Turkey referendum: Erdogan wins vote to expand presidential powers

  • 1 hour ago
  •  
  • From the sectionEurope

Media captionPresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan: "Decision made by the Turkish public is a historic moment"

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has narrowly won a referendum to expand presidential powers, which could keep him in office until 2029.

With 99.45% of ballots counted, the "Yes" campaign had won 51.37% and "No" 48.63%, and the electoral board called victory for "Yes".

Erdogan supporters say replacing the parliamentary system with an executive presidency will modernise the country.

Turkey's two main opposition parties said they would challenge the results.

The Republican People's Party (CHP) demanded a recount of 60% of votes. They criticised a decision to accept unstamped ballot papers as valid unless proven otherwise.

As jubilant Erdogan supporters rallied in the big cities, pots and pans were banged in Istanbul by opponents of the referendum, in a traditional form of protest.

Three people were shot dead near a polling station in the south-eastern province of Diyarbakir, reportedly during a dispute over how they were voting.

The European Commission called on the Turkish authorities in a statement to "seek the broadest possible national consensus" when implementing the constitutional reforms.

Grey line

Lingering doubts: BBC's Mark Lowen in Ankara

Erdogan supporters in Ankara, 16 AprilImage copyrightEPA

They are rejoicing into the night here outside the headquarters of the governing AK party (AKP), confident in the victory claimed by President Erdogan.

He and his government say more than 51% of voters have backed the constitutional reform but the opposition has cried foul, claiming massive irregularities over invalid votes and vowing to challenge the result at the supreme electoral board.

Mr Erdogan said the clear victory needed to be respected. In a typically rabble-rousing speech, he proposed another referendum on reinstating the death penalty, which would end Turkey's EU negotiations.

But this has not been the resounding win he wanted and doubts will linger over its legitimacy. It was hoped this vote might bring Turkey stability but that still seems some way off.

Grey line

Death penalty next?

"Today... Turkey has taken a historic decision," Mr Erdogan told a briefing at his official Istanbul residence, the Huber Palace. "With the people, we have realised the most important reform in our history."

He called on everyone to respect the outcome of the vote.

The president also said the country could hold a referendum on bringing back the death penalty.

He usually gives triumphant balcony speeches, the BBC's Mark Lowen notes, but this was a muted indoors address.

Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak admitted the "Yes" vote had been lower than expected.

Grey line

What's in the new constitution?

The draft states that the next presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on 3 November 2019.

The president will have a five-year tenure, for a maximum of two terms.

  • The president will be able to directly appoint top public officials, including ministers
  • He will also be able to assign one or several vice-presidents
  • The job of prime minister, currently held by Binali Yildirim, will be scrapped
  • The president will have power to intervene in the judiciary, which Mr Erdogan has accused of being influenced by Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based preacher he blames for the failed coup in July
  • The president will decide whether or not impose a state of emergency
Grey line

'French-style system'

Mr Erdogan says the changes are needed to address Turkey's security challenges nine months after an attempted coup, and to avoid the fragile coalition governments of the past.

The new system, he argues, will resemble those in France and the US and will bring calm in a time of turmoil marked by a Kurdish insurgency, Islamist militancy and conflict in neighbouring Syria, which has led to a huge refugee influx.

Critics of the changes fear the move will make the president's position too powerful, arguing that it amounts to one-man rule, without the checks and balances of other presidential systems such as those in France and the US.

They say his ability to retain ties to a political party - Mr Erdogan could resume leadership of the AKP he co-founded - will end any chance of impartiality.

Supporters of the Image copyrightAFPImage captionSome protesters banged pots and pans in the Turkish capital after the results were announced

CHP deputy leader Erdal Aksunger said he believed there had been irregularities in the count: "Many illegal acts are being carried out in favour of the 'Yes' campaign right now.

"There is the state on one side and people on the other. 'No' will win in the end. Everybody will see that."

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) also challenged the vote.

Critics abroad fear Erdogan's reach

The day a Turkish writer's life changed

Emergency rule

Many Turks already fear growing authoritarianism in their country, where tens of thousands of people have been arrested, and at least 100,000 sacked or suspended from their jobs, since a coup attempt last July.

The campaign unfolded under a state of emergency imposed in the wake of the failed coup.


Media captionAcademic voices her fears for her country

Mr Erdogan assumed the presidency, meant to be a largely ceremonial position, in 2014 after more than a decade as prime minister.

Under his rule, the middle class has ballooned and infrastructure has been modernised, while religious Turks have been empowered.

Relations with the EU, meanwhile, have deteriorated. Mr Erdogan sparred bitterly with European governments who banned rallies by his ministers in their countries during the referendum campaign. He called the bans "Nazi acts".

Turkey's dominant president

The ultranationalists who could sway Erdogan

12 monkeys!!!!!
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down