Monday, April 17, 2017

President Erdogan Won; Turkey Lost

President Erdogan and his AKP Party won the Turkey referendum to reform the Turkey Constitution by 18 articles. Turkey will now become a Presidential Government with President Erdogan able to stay in office until 2029. He won because he had to. He won narrowly, 51.4% to 48.6%. He won because he controlled all the media. He won because he has used the past 6 months to chill the opposition. He won, or did he? Was the count fair, or was there voting fraud? The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) questioned the election. It found “an unlevel playing field” and ‘not equal opportunity.” It said the vote "fell short of adherence to international standards." Was the count fair, or was there voting fraud? Election observers were barred from monitoring the vote. Was the count fair, or was there election fraud? The rules were changed on counting ballots during the election. The rules required ballots to be stamped when submitted to minimize fraud. About 1 million ballots, almost the margin of victory, were stamped after submission. A person who will suppress the press, jailing more members of the media than any other country, will not hesitate to stuff the ballot box. A person who has imprisoned or purged 145,000 judges, lawyers, teachers, police, professors, military, and soccer players. will have no problem rigging the election. A person who stripped opposition legislators of their legislative immunity is not concerned by the nuances of democracy. A person who closed schools and opposition newspapers will not tolerate dissent. A person leading a war against the Kurds in Turkey and Syria will have no qualms about suppressing their vote. He lost the vote in the three largest cities of Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir as well as the Kurdish homeland, but he still won, He polled 85% in much of Anatolia and along the Black Sea Coast. His victory may have been narrow and unexpectedly low, but he won. Fairly? The main opposition party is demanding a recount of 60% of the vote. They won’t get it. He does it all in the name of religion. He serves Allah, but he and his family have been enriched in office. He blames it all on the Gulen Movement, the Crusader nations of the West, the Kurds, the Nazi nations of the West, you name it. His response to the election results was to claim at the Ankara Airport that he won despite the attack by nations with the “Crusader Mentality.” He also called for a new referendum on restoring capital punishment to Turkey. He is vengeful and vindictive, but has a right to be so. The military imprisoned him when he was Mayor of Istanbul, and then tried to overthrow him in a bloody, abortive, incompetent coup last July. The tragedy for the world is President Erdogan and Turkey have tremendous leverage. The secular Turkey was a critical stalwart of NATO because of its location during the Cold War. Today’s Turkey is critical to the stability of Europe because it controls the spigot of Syrian refugees to Europe. President Erdogan built his support on the twin base of Islam and economic development. Istanbul was a basket case when he became Mayor. He turned it around. He fostered economic development as Prime Minister of Turkey. The economy grew at a 10% annual rate. The cities were booming. Turkey is becoming an economic basket case. The fabled Grand Bazaar is empty of customers; shops are closing The Turkish Lira is tanking. The tourist industry is moribund. His purges have struck the professional class and the middle class. His military adventures against the Kurds and in Syria are draining the economy. His fights against both Kurdish and ISIS terrorism, albeit necessary, are further sapping public morale. But he is winning. To a great extent the referendum simply formalizes the powers he has already accrued under the successive “states of emergency” imposed in the aftermath of the failed coup. One of the 18 articles grants the President the power to unilaterally declare a state of emergency. The government is planning to issue an extension of the current state of emergency, which expires later this month. Another article will make him President for Life, albeit not in those words. It provides the President can serve two successive terms of five years with the possibility of a third term, all taking effect after his current term expires in 2019. He’s 64 now. He can be President of Turkey for another 17 years until 2034. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ I probably shouldn't publish this blog, but so be it.

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