Turkey Referendum: Evet’

It is like the old days; an emperor is chosen, subjects are asked for allegiance through out the empire, thus completing a ‘legitimate’ peaceful transfer of power in the Kingdom with a new Sultan. Sounds familiar? Evet’

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Modern day Turkey as a secular, democratic state came into being in 1923 when Mustafa Kemal Pasha commonly known as “Ataturk” (Father of Turks) took charge of the country and it was proclaimed as Republic of Turkey.

From 1923 to 2017, Turkey faced three coup d’état in 1960, 1971, 1980 and a “post Modern Coup in 1997 that plunged the country into plethora of problems including political chaos and economic downfall.

After the Post Modern Coup-1997, Necmettin Erbakan has been forced to leave the office of Prime Ministry, then Former Turkish President Abdullah Gul and sitting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan formed AK Party (Justice and Development Party). Erdogan was barred from holding any public office in 2002 elections, later on, in 2003; he was allowed to take an active part in country’s politics.
After his reentry, Erdogan served the country as Prime Minister thrice (2003-2014) and now he is one of the strongest President of the country since 2014.

Erdogan also held office of Istanbul’s Mayor (1994-1998) and during that tenure he brought tremendous changes at gross root level and Istanbul became a Tourist destination due to steps were being taken by him.

He paid off IMF debts by cutting six zeros of Turkish Liras, his plan of economic revival made public love him and he became popular among Turks, He settled the dispute Hagia Sophia, he introduced reforms for both army and public as well, He made civil-military relationship more cohesive, he eliminated pro-west approach of secularism and gave free worship rights to the Muslims also. Turkish NGOs and philanthropic institutes went on helping humanity across the globe during Erdogan’s tenure. He started negotiations with Kurds though those talks failed but taking an initiative is an achievement of Erdogan. He made Turkish society more vibrant than it was before him.

Erdogan started his politics from ashes and became President of the Country which was once considered as “Sick man of Europe”, now this sick man is offering a competitive market for its neighbors and the credit of Turkey’s progress only goes to Erdogan.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters upon his arrival at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, April 17, 2017. Yasin Bulbul/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters upon his arrival at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, April 17, 2017. Yasin Bulbul/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Turkey made rapid changes in its foreign policy during Erdogan era and emerged as regional player in handling different conflicts; playing a leading role in Middle Eastern affairs.  But at the other hand, Erdogan backed army meddled in Syrian affairs and brought bad name by mishandling the issue. Turkish foreign policy failure deteriorated the situation when it failed to prevent Israel from attacking Freedom Flotilla (convoy of ships carrying aid items to Gaza) in 2010 and both states suffered due to lack of confidence.

European Union denied Turkish access to its market which forced Erdogan to adopt Look East Policy and he accepted the challenge by announcing, “World is bigger than Five countries”.

No doubt religious cleric Fatehullah Gulen was the harshest critique of Necmettin Erbakan during his tenure but when Erdogan and his fellow politicians established AK Party, Fatehullah supported Tayyip Erdogan by using his influence at local level in early stages. In this quid-pro-quo settlement Erdogan adjusted Fatehullah Gulen’s followers at different departments of the state including Army, Bureaucracy and Judiciary. Later on it was being claimed by the government that Fatehullah wants to grab governments’ control so Erdogan started purged against Guleninsts-Acronym of Fatehullah Gulen’s followers. Fatehullah is being blamed for his alleged involvement in July 2016 coup.

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Fatehullah and his followers are being considered as the worst enemy of the government and subject to various punishments, Turkish government has requested all countries to shut down Gulen run schools, Erdogan during his visit to Pakistan, requested Pakistani government to take action against Pak-Turk schools which are being run by his rival who allegedly staged coup to topple the government.

Erdogan government has also requested US to extradite Fatehullah Gulen but US seems to be unwilling to act upon the request.
Erodgan was forced to change the system which kept on creating political chaos throughout period since 1923, Turkish people used their right to vote for changing the system and decision of majority must be given proper respect.

According to the proposed constitution, Under the changes, most of which will only come into effect after the next elections due in 2019, the president will appoint the cabinet and an undefined number of vice-presidents, and be able to select and remove senior civil servants without parliamentary approval.

The president would be elected for a five-year term and be allowed to serve as the leader of a political party. Parliamentary elections would be held every five years – not four as now – and on the same day as presidential polls.
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It is a matter of fact that Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast and its three main cities, including the capital Ankara and the largest city Istanbul, voted “No” in the referendum but Erdogan said 25 million people had supported the proposal, as 51.5 percent voters voted “Yes”. It means 48.5 percent of the total Turkish population is against Turkish style Presidency.

48.5 percent minority cannot be ignored or any decision that can hurt 48.5 percent of country’s total population could disturb balance of power inside Turkey in future.

Written by: Khizar Manzoor
Edited by: Rana Saad Sultan (saad.sultan@cdpakistan.org)

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