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

17:09 • 23/11

EU-Armenia agreement offers vast guarantees for state sovereignty  - opinion

16:16 • 23/11

Saudi elite facing torture by US mercenaries

16:04 • 23/11

Azerbaijani army captain found dead close to Armenia’s state border

15:46 • 23/11

NATO warns against escalations in Karabakh  

15:14 • 23/11

Turkey sends extradition demands for Gulen to US

15:08 • 23/11

Deal signed to return Rohingya to Muslims

15:02 • 23/11

We will hail Azerbaijan’s EEU accession if commitments respected - official

14:34 • 23/11

Kim Kardashian's new fragrance line sells out in 6 DAYS raking in $14 million

14:12 • 23/11

Coordinated approach to Karabakh key element in EU-Armenia agreement - analyst

13:24 • 23/11

Stunning 'Farewell to Saturn' mosaic created from Cassini's final views of the planet

12:48 • 23/11

Armenian premier orders specific steps to develop digital agenda

12:13 • 23/11

Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan discuss Syria in Sochi

12:00 • 23/11

George Avakian, jazz producer and scholar, dead at 98

11:37 • 23/11

Turkey, Azerbaijan still unlikely to accept Armenia’s plan to use regional rail link – Georgian expert

10:41 • 23/11

Zhoghovurd: EU, Armenia may call off partnership agreement

10:29 • 23/11

Samsung Electronics to launch AI research center

10:15 • 23/11

EU: Press Azerbaijan on Rights at Summit – Human Rights Watch

09:56 • 23/11

Zhamanak: EU-Armenia agreement not yet ratified by eight countries

09:37 • 23/11

Paris police use tear gas to combat education plan protest

09:23 • 23/11

Four killed in Georgia terror siege

18:02 • 22/11

House that takes 6 hours to build and costs just $33K

17:48 • 22/11

Boeing jets auctioned online for $48m

17:34 • 22/11

Britain's most notorious prisoner refused parole or chance to move to an open jail just days after wedding

17:23 • 22/11

Hot lips: Eyes and a smiling mouth spotted in Ethiopian volcano

17:11 • 22/11

Georgia says suspected militant captured in ongoing counterterrorism operation

16:53 • 22/11

Only Russia can resolve Karabakh conflict – Erdogan

16:21 • 22/11

US prosecutors charge Iranian in 'Game of Thrones' hack

15:59 • 22/11

3-year-old pays whopping $2.64M for car license plate in Abu Dhabi

15:51 • 22/11

US Navy plane crashes in Philippine Sea; 3 missing

15:47 • 22/11

Mladic jailed for life over Bosnia war genocide

15:34 • 22/11

Lebanon: Hariri says to hold off resignation as PM

15:21 • 22/11

No serious changes expected in Karabakh peace talks – political analyst

14:38 • 22/11

More details released in fatal incident at Artsakh military post

14:12 • 22/11

Mugabe successor due back to Zimbabwe from exile

13:22 • 22/11

Lavrov underlined parity principle with Armenia, Azerbaijan - analyst

12:33 • 22/11

Skype removed from China app stores

12:24 • 22/11

Sevilla coach reveals cancer during draw with Liverpool

12:11 • 22/11

Karabakh should be axiomatic priority in EaP Summit Declaration – Armenian parliamentarian

11:36 • 22/11

Uber paid hackers for massive data breach cover-up

11:30 • 22/11

Ivanka and Tiffany Trump join National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation

11:20 • 22/11

Hariri back in Lebanon for first time since resignation

11:07 • 22/11

'Partridge Family' heartthrob David Cassidy dies at 77

10:56 • 22/11

Armenian youth actively joins European HIV-Hepatitis testing week

10:16 • 22/11

Turkey: Zaman journalist sentenced to 7.5 years in prison

10:01 • 22/11

Zhoghovurd: No technical obstacles to EU-Armenia agreement - Switalski

09:40 • 22/11

Three Armenian soldiers die in mine explosion in Nagorno-Karabakh

09:25 • 22/11

Zimbabwe celebrates end of Mugabe era

09:12 • 22/11

Trump, Putin hold hour-long phone call on foreign affairs

18:19 • 21/11

Azerbaijan’s EEU integration impossible without Armenia’s consent – Russian analyst

17:16 • 21/11

Converse Bank launches special product for customers receiving foreign transfers

16:29 • 21/11

Armenia to receive 1.3m NATO assistance

15:47 • 21/11

UEFA release team of 21st century

15:40 • 21/11

US ending temporary permits for almost 60,000 Haitians

15:32 • 21/11

Barron Trump towers over Melania - aged just 11 - as the pair greet the official White House Christmas tree

15:19 • 21/11

Egyptian singer held for ‘suggestive video’

14:52 • 21/11

VEON Ltd conducts leadership meeting in Armenia  

14:40 • 21/11

Merkel hints fresh elections after coalition defeat

14:24 • 21/11

Kim Kardashian's pregnant surrogate shows off baby bump while running errands (photos)

14:10 • 21/11

Azerbaijan’s statements run counter to practical steps – Nalbandian

13:40 • 21/11

Iran’s Rouhani declares end of Islamic State

13:15 • 21/11

All elements to resolve Karabakh conflict 'in place' – Sergey Lavrov

12:40 • 21/11

168 Zham: EU-Armenia agreement 'no threat to Russia and Eurasian Union' – analyst

12:13 • 21/11

NASA reveals bizarre shape of interstellar asteroid

11:50 • 21/11

Zhamanak: Lavrov gave Azerbaijan clear message on Karabakh, says Russian expert

10:45 • 21/11

US approves $75m sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Georgia

10:27 • 21/11

Azerbaijan’s EEU membership 'not acceptable now' - Armenian economist

10:03 • 21/11

Syria military operations nearing end; Putin and Assad meet in Sochi

09:43 • 21/11

Game of Thrones operator Mark Milsome dies in Ghana

09:28 • 21/11

Trump declares N Korea ‘sponsor of terror’

09:13 • 21/11

Zimbabwe crisis: Mugabe could lose presidency in days

17:51 • 20/11

Germany: Merkel suffers blow as coalition plan fails

17:38 • 20/11

Honest intentions key to future peace over Karabakh – Thomas Greminger

16:55 • 20/11

Iraqi Federal Court rules Kurdish referendum unconstitutional  

16:44 • 20/11

‘Visible steps’ to reach Karabakh breakthrough - Mammadyarov

16:27 • 20/11

Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna dies at 49

16:16 • 20/11

Germany bans smartwatches for kids

16:09 • 20/11

Atom Egoyan to be honored with Lifetime Achievement Award at IFFI 2017

15:37 • 20/11

Turkey-Armenia rapprochement 'left for different spring' – Taner Akcam

14:52 • 20/11

Armenia may be unaffected by Turkey-Russia thaw, says expert

14:20 • 20/11

Lavrov highlights progress in Karabakh peace  

13:59 • 20/11

Saakashvili tells Kiev protesters he is ready to become Ukraine's prime minister

13:49 • 20/11

Russia would hail Azerbaijan’s EEU accession – Lavrov

13:01 • 20/11

Gold leaf from Napoleon’s crown fetches $735,000 in Paris

12:55 • 20/11

US bans alcohol for troops in Japan

12:43 • 20/11

Amended referendum law to take effect after new President’s inauguration – CEC chairman

12:02 • 20/11

Selana Gomez unveils a sassy new style as she and pop princess Demi Lovato turn heads in bold black numbers at the American Music Awards

11:53 • 20/11

National Defense Research University ends intra-agency executive education pilot course

11:42 • 20/11

Turkey unaffected by EU's trim of funding

11:27 • 20/11

Armenian politician declares hunger-strike against 'anti-constitutional' order

11:03 • 20/11

Chales Manson whose followers killed 83 people dies at 83

10:46 • 20/11

Artsakh president starts working visit to France (photos)

10:17 • 20/11

Armenian Genocide monument raises Turks’ anger in Cologne  

09:51 • 20/11

German coalition plan fails after deadlock on migration, energy

09:42 • 20/11

FIDE Grand Prix 2017: Aronian wins Anish Giri  

09:27 • 20/11

Syria army liberates Abu Kamal from ISIS militants

09:08 • 20/11

Mugabe stuns Zimbabwe by defying pressure to resign

15:06 • 18/11

6.9 magnitude quake hits southern China

14:51 • 18/11

Iraqi forces recapture last Islamic State-held town

14:38 • 18/11

Conte to grow beard until Chelsea’s next defeat

14:28 • 18/11

NATO reiterates apology to Turkey over Ataturk, Erdogan reports