Turkey’s Referendum Rocks European Politics

Turkey’s Referendum Rocks European Politics

President Erogan's referendum will change the landscape of Turkey Politics significantly.

Recently, Turkish citizens have been anxious about a colossal decision that could determine the fate of their democracy: a constitutional referendum on the power of the Turkish presidency.  

The referendum, which took place on April 16th, asked voters to determine if the Turkish presidency should receive a new set of sweeping powers that would change the country’s current parliamentary system of government into a presidential one. The “Yes” vote meant that Turkey would increase the power of the presidency and therefore the power of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while a “No” vote meant that Turkey would keep the status quo. President Erdogan has stated that these reforms would evade the grueling legislative procedures that have restricted potential progress while critics have argued that the referendum would give the presidency too much authority.  Throughout the process, Erdogan strived for an international campaign and repeatedly called upon the support of Turkish expatriates. Because of his tempestuous global relations, however, Erdogan’s international campaign was severely restricted, with several E.U. countries cancelling “Yes” campaign events. As a result, Erdogan criticized Dutch and German authorities, calling them Nazis and fascists. Several worries also arose when German voters in support of Erdogan were caught attempting to vote multiple times and hid ballot papers before the overseas voting process began.  After these reports of election fraud and corruption, many have begun to question the legality of the “Yes” campaign’s victory. Bülent Tezcan, chairman of the Republican People’s Party, said that “illegal acts” were carried out, which made the result invalid. Margaritis Schinas, a European Commission spokesman, has since asked for authorities to look into the alleged voter fraud.  President Trump recently injected himself into the discussion when he called the Turkish president to congratulate him on the result, contradicting a statement by a White House spokesman who stated that the administration would wait for any revelations from election monitors. The two leaders say they have also discussed counter-terrorism tactics to defeat the Islamic State. Now, Turkish citizens are waiting to see what comes next after this tumultuous series of politically charged events.  Sources: Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, The Guardian, Reuters Photo License: Flickr