Turkey’s new constitution to bring about  most radical overhaul of state – The Economist

12:17 • 21.04.17



It was a vote that turned out to be as controversial as it was hotly contested. Even before all of the ballots had been counted, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, stepped in front of a crowd of supporters in Istanbul and proclaimed victory. “My nation stood upright and undivided,” he said, referring to the referendum on a constitution that will give him new, virtually unchecked powers. “April 16th was a victory for all of Turkey.”

Yet it was hardly the win Mr Erdogan had expected. The Yes camp, which the president headed, limped away with just 51.4% of the vote. The opposition accused the country’s electoral authority of foul play. Outside observers charged the government with stacking the odds in its favour. Anti-government demonstrations broke out in a number of Turkish cities. The country awoke the following morning more divided than ever.


The new constitution will bring about the most radical overhaul of the state since 1923, when it went from being an imperial Islamic power to a secular republic under Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. After fresh elections in 2019, Mr Erdogan will rule uncontested, appointing senior officials, judges and members of his own cabinet, with little oversight by an expanded but weakened parliament. The office of prime minister will cease to exist.


Yet the constitution is already mired in controversy. The main opposition, the secular Republican People’s party (CHP), has asked for the referendum results to be annulled. A last-minute decision by the country’s electoral board to accept unstamped ballot papers created the risk of mass fraud, the CHP said. Claims of vote-rigging, especially in the Kurdish southeast, have been pouring in. In a scathing assessment, observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), an intergovernmental body, said the board’s move had “undermined an important safeguard and contradicted the law”. A state of emergency imposed shortly after an attempted coup in July, accompanied by nearly 50,000 arrests and a climate of intimidation and nationalist hysteria, was hardly the proper setting for a referendum on systemic changes. “Voters were not provided with impartial information about key aspects of the reform and limitations on fundamental freedoms had a negative effect,” the OSCE said.


There is next to no chance of a recount. The electoral board rejected the opposition’s appeal on April 19th, but promised to look into individual allegations of fraud. (Official results are expected towards the end of April.) Mr Erdogan asked foreign observers to keep their concerns to themselves. “We don’t care about the opinions of ‘Hans’ or ‘George’,” he said. His prime minister added: “The people’s decision is clear and the result is a Yes.”


The allegations will haunt Mr Erdogan for years, leaving the country even more polarised than before. Mr Erdogan might be “the most unassailable Turkish leader since Ataturk but this legitimacy issue will hang over his head,” says Soner Cagaptay, a fellow at the Washington Institute.

International reaction has been muted. Other than Donald Trump’s America, which joined model democracies such as Russia, Sudan, Hungary and Djibouti in congratulating Mr Erdogan, no leader of a big Western country has welcomed the vote. Britain, Germany and the EU called instead for dialogue and an impartial inquiry. Mr Erdogan did not appear particularly keen to rebuild bridges with Europe: on the day of the vote, he pledged once again to do his part to reinstate the death penalty, which would threaten the membership of Turkey in the Council of Europe and torpedo its already comatose accession talks with the EU.


One-man show


Supporters of the new constitution say it will improve decision-making by concentrating power in Mr Erdogan’s hands, precluding unwieldy political coalitions and neutralising powerful unelected officials. “From now on, it’s the people who are going to rule Turkey,” says Ufuk, a young Yes voter relaxing outside a polling booth.


Opponents say it will transform the government, already dominated by Mr Erdogan, into an authoritarian regime. “This is the beginning of one-man rule,” says Ali Bayramoglu, a columnist who used to be sympathetic to the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party. After he said earlier this month that he would oppose the new constitution, Mr Bayramoglu was assaulted by AK supporters at a polling station on the day of the vote.


Some of the changes will come into effect immediately. An impartiality clause that required the president to sever links with any political party (which he flouted) will expire. Mr Erdogan is expected formally to rejoin AK as soon as official results are announced this week. Within a month, the country’s most influential judicial body, the council of judges and prosecutors, will shrink and move from a system of election by peers to one of appointment by parliament and the president.


Mr Erdogan’s initial comments suggest he will disregard the slim margin of victory and portray the referendum as a sign of support for his crackdown. The day after the vote, his government extended the state of emergency until July 19th. Two days after that, police arrested some 38 people accused of participating in protests.


Turkey is saddled with a constitution opposed by nearly half of all voters in a referendum tainted by fraud claims and held under conditions that made open debate impossible. Mr Erdogan has the powers he has long coveted. They come at the cost of tension at home and isolation abroad.

 





LATEST NEWSAll Today news

11:17 • 25/04

Silent encourages tormentor - Khloe Kardashian remembers Genpcide victims

10:36 • 25/04

Turkey Foreign Ministry slams Trump’s April 24 address

10:24 • 25/04

Samantha Power: ‘I am Sorry that We in Obama Administration did not Recognize Armenian Genocide’

10:17 • 25/04

Historical record of Genocide is clear despite repeated denial – Nancy Pelosi  

09:59 • 25/04

Nagorno-Karabakh soldier fatally wounded by Azerbaijani bullet

09:43 • 25/04

Tens of Thousands hold march for justice to Los Angeles Turkish Consulate

09:39 • 25/04

Rising death toll reported in Venezuela protests

09:29 • 25/04

Elton John recovers from potentially deadly infection

09:12 • 25/04

We honor the victims of ‘Meds Yeghern’ – Trump’s address on Genocide Remembrance Day

08:57 • 25/04

France elections: Le Pen steps aside to focus on presidential campaign

17:52 • 24/04

Pope Francis conveyed message of peaceful dialogue – Mikael Minasyan

16:28 • 24/04

Keeping the Promise – Huffington Post

16:12 • 24/04

Aurora names five finalists for 2017 award (photos)

15:28 • 24/04

Driverless car trials approved in London

15:02 • 24/04

Genocide remembrance not just experience of past grief – US-Armenian philanthropist

14:23 • 24/04

Cyprus reiterates support to Armenian Genocide recognition

14:14 • 24/04

Istanbul police hamper Armenian Genocide march  

13:35 • 24/04

Thousands commemorate Armenian Genocide at Montebello monument

13:27 • 24/04

This genocide must be eventually recognized – parliament official

12:42 • 24/04

Istanbul church hosts Armenian Genocide mass

12:18 • 24/04

Naming the Armenian genocide for what it is – Chris Bohjalian

11:55 • 24/04

Armenian Genocide victims remembered in special Mass

11:30 • 24/04

Syria’s Kessab hit in fresh rocket attack

11:02 • 24/04

Euro jumps after French presidential election

10:50 • 24/04

Istanbul-Armenians to remember Genocide victims  

10:30 • 24/04

We will not allow more crimes of genocide – Serzh Sargsyan

10:17 • 24/04

Armenians marking Genocide anniversary today

09:30 • 24/04

Football: Messi scores last-second winner

09:16 • 24/04

French election: Macron appears set for Elysee in runoff with Le Pen

15:30 • 22/04

US to honor refugee deal with Australia, says Mike Pence

15:18 • 22/04

Canadians solemnly commemorate Armenian Genocide victims – Justin Trudeau

15:16 • 22/04

Trump was cut from an Al Pacino film after demanding role

14:58 • 22/04

National Archives to publish new editions on Armenian Genocide

14:08 • 22/04

Putin, Erdogan to meet in Turkey in May

13:39 • 22/04

US congressman calls for proper recognition of Armenian Genocide

13:27 • 22/04

Eco-friendly development ‘pressing demand’ in Armenia - minister

12:30 • 22/04

All-electric ‘flying car’ take its first test flight in Germany

12:15 • 22/04

Armenian premier calls for stronger efforts to boost social well-being

11:31 • 22/04

Ibrahimovic to retire: Man United star to end career after horror injury - reports

11:24 • 22/04

Zhoghovurd: Russian low-coster’s disappointing shock

10:30 • 22/04

Demi Moore sells NYC iconic penthouse for $45M

10:13 • 22/04

Azerbaijan keeps Karabakh frontline under heavy fire  

10:00 • 22/04

8-year-old Siberian albino girl being flooded with modeling offers for unique beauty

09:30 • 22/04

Wyoming becomes 45th US State to Recognize Armenian Genocide

09:10 • 22/04

Obama to return to public eye  after three-month vacation

18:05 • 21/04

 Nation-Army ideology should attract also diaspora-Armenians, says minister

17:44 • 21/04

Terrorists receive chemical weapons from Turkey, says Syria’s Assad

17:19 • 21/04

Genocide recognition should be step towards reinstating state borders

16:43 • 21/04

'X-Files' returns for new season

16:40 • 21/04

Mercedes launches S-Class Sedan

16:12 • 21/04

Criminal case launched over Armenian conscript's death

15:43 • 21/04

Armenian ombudsman highlights police abuses in July events

14:47 • 21/04

Former England defender dies Ugo Ehiogu dies

14:43 • 21/04

Armenian conscript fatally wounded in military unit

13:51 • 21/04

Parties running for Yerevan City Hall launching political campaign today

13:08 • 21/04

US discriminating against Chinese firms, says TCL boss

12:55 • 21/04

Armenian activists blast ombudsman as ‘authorities’ puppet’ (photos)

12:17 • 21/04

Turkey’s new constitution to bring about  most radical overhaul of state – The Economist

12:03 • 21/04

Zhamanak: Ohanyan to be promoted to senior post in Russia?

11:35 • 21/04

Trump administration unlikely to recognize Genocide – Richard Giragosian

10:31 • 21/04

German police arrest suspect in Borussia Dortmund bus attack

10:16 • 21/04

Azerbaijan shoots heavy fire on Karabakh frontline

10:06 • 21/04

Armenian Genocide Committee announces March for Justice coalition

09:47 • 21/04

Azerbaijan shells interstate highway section connecting Armenian villages

09:09 • 21/04

Paris shootout leaves police officer, gunman dead

18:08 • 20/04

I am now focused on investment projects in Armenia, Artsakh, says former minister

17:18 • 20/04

Facebook building brain-computer interfaces for typing and skin-hearing

17:00 • 20/04

Celebrities warned of Instagram ads

16:35 • 20/04

French presidential hopeful calls for support to Genocide denial criminalization

15:26 • 20/04

Indonesian bride's fairytale wedding gown sparks a social media frenzy

15:10 • 20/04

Defense minister announces new projects to boost military education  

14:14 • 20/04

Fresh claims of Azerbaijan vote-rigging at European human rights body – The Gurdian

13:26 • 20/04

Armenian Genocide movie in theaters on Friday

13:14 • 20/04

Turkey’s Erdogan snubs objections to referendum results

12:48 • 20/04

Armenian president pledges housing support to families of killed, disabled servicemen

12:19 • 20/04

Juventus 0-0 Barcelona

12:02 • 20/04

Yerevan hosts 'Nation-Army 2017' conference

11:31 • 20/04

California Assembly committee passes Turkey divestment bills

11:11 • 20/04

EU-Armenia visa liberalization ‘absolutely transparent process’ – lawmaker

10:12 • 20/04

Australia overhauls citizenship process

10:08 • 20/04

Nagorno-Karabakh reports more Azerbaijani ceasefire violations

09:45 • 20/04

Zhoghovurd: Why don’t we have airports?

09:15 • 20/04

Iran accused of alarming provocations

09:08 • 20/04

Bomb blasts outside Athens bank, causing minor damage

18:04 • 19/04

 Physicists create fluid with ‘negative mass’

17:43 • 19/04

France must support Armenian Genocide recognition campaign, says presidential runner

17:23 • 19/04

Ucom and “Fora-Bank”: Cooperation in the field of telecommunications  

16:57 • 19/04

Syria evacuations resume after bombing

16:39 • 19/04

Authoritarian Turkey is more secure for Armenia, says diplomat

15:49 • 19/04

Crunch tennis match interrupted by sound of noisy sex

15:41 • 19/04

IMDb users gang up on Christian Bale’s Genocide movie

14:35 • 19/04

Turkey referendum second act of show after failed coup – diplomat

13:32 • 19/04

We managed to rebuild Yerevan residents’ trust in future, says mayor

12:51 • 19/04

Armenian Genocide movie screens in Sacramento

12:36 • 19/04

Turkey referendum: Erdogan insists reforms don't make him a dictator

12:31 • 19/04

Frida Kahlo’s hidden wardrobe unlocked after almost 50 years

12:11 • 19/04

We expect President Trump’s honest stance on Armenian Genocide – Aram Hamparian

11:37 • 19/04

VivaCell-MTS announces change in brand name

10:49 • 19/04

Iran complies with nuke deal but orders review on lifting sanctions, says Trump

10:38 • 19/04

Haykakan Zhamanak: Russia-Turkey thaw to deal major blow to Armenian businessmen