Constitutional Referendum paves way for one-man rule in Turkey

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Ottoman Empire is all set to return to Turkey as Erdogan Empire

HUSSAIN SAQIB

The Constitutional referendum in Turkey today has paved way for Erdogan’s one-man rule. This has not come out of blue, it was long awaited. Awaited with bated breath as Erdogan had left no stone unturned to grab all powers which were legally not available to him as a figure-head president. All his efforts went in vain but the coup of last year.

Turkey’s coup of last July was fake, phony and stage-managed in more than one way but it had one major objective in its failure; to make Recep Tayyip Erdogan the most powerful man of Turkey. Erdogan, an Islamist, had autocratic tendencies the day he entered the power corridors of Ankara. When he was the prime minister, he enjoyed absolute powers because the office of the president is only titular in Turkey’s parliamentary system but when he became the president, he had the dream to become all powerful. He tried hard to amend the Constitution and change Turkey’s democratic features to suit his personal ambitions.

There were four spoilers that Erdogan had to deal with; democracy itself, professional armed forces, independent judiciary and free-thinking intelligentsia. He has already demonstrated fairly clearly his contempt for democracy by imposing the state of emergency in Turkey. Other parties in the parliament were opposed to any constitutional amendment paving way for Erdogan’s executive presidency. Without their support, Erdogan could not have enough votes for the amendment.

The second spoiler is the armed forces who consider themselves custodians of Turkey’s secular Constitution. The soldiers are generally secular and would resist any attempt to disfigure the secular face of the country. They have a role in the decision-making under the Constitution. The third spoiler is the judiciary which could insist to go by the Constitution or simply resist the high-handedness of the regime unleashed on the detractors.

Judiciary was the first to be taken care of by sacking nearly 3000 members of judiciary immediately after the coup. The fourth spoiler is free-thinking intelligentsia who are accused of being under the influence of Sufi preacher Fethulla Gulen, a follower of Mevlana Rumi who was an ally during the earlier years of Erdogan rule. He is in self-exile in the US and is running a network of schools around the globe and even in Turkey. A free-thinking intelligentsia spread the virus of freedom of thought and could be a threat to Erdogan rule graver than other threats.

A failed coup followed by a ruthless crackdown on political and ideological opponents, was thought to be the only way forward for Erdogan to realize his dream. Turkey has been under dictatorial state of emergency with no basic rights since last July. The arm-twisting techniques including jailing and executing members of military, judiciary, intelligentsia and political parties, seems to have worked with Erdogan asking public to vote for his Constitutional amendments. He already enjoys support in rural Turkey which constitutes majority votes. The analysts had already feared that Erdogan will sail through and Turkey, once dubbed Sick Man of Europe, before abolition of Caliphate, will embark upon a backward journey to repressive rule and monarchy.

According to BROOKINGS the amendments package has been prepared with current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in mind. Considering that both the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Erdoğan are likely to continue to win the popular vote, the changes would institutionalize a populist, one-man system that jeopardizes legislative and judicial independence and consolidates them in the office of the president. Indeed, the dramatic changes proposed would set in motion the most drastic shake-up of the country’s politics and system of governance in its 94-year-long history. Indeed, as written in The Washington Post, Turkey would never be the same again if this is passed.

It’s only a matter of time to see Ottoman Empire return to Turkey as Erdogan Empire.

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