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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The 2017 Turkish constitutional referendum

The remarkably swift outcome of the Turkish referendum showed a surprisingly narrow “Yes” to its President. This puts the result in the same category as Brexit and the 2016 US Presidential election: a nation torn apart by a disputed outcome with no clear and overwhelming majority.

A lower or higher voter turnout could easily have flipped the result. It's weird that such far-reaching referenda usually do not have conditions like a minimum voter turnout or a minimum difference between “Yes” and “No” to reflect a margin of error. Absolute numbers rule.

The OSCE statement of Monday 17 April 2017 was kind of "blue": “The 16 April constitutional referendum took place on an unlevel playing field and the two sides of the campaign did not have equal opportunities. Voters were not provided with impartial information about key aspects of the reform, and civil society organizations were not able to participate.”

The amendments to the Turkish Constitution will deteriorate the power of the legislative (Parliament) and the judicial (courts) branches of government. Obviously, it will significantly increase the power of the executive branch (President). However, any Constitution "lives" longer than its President.

The President’s opponents will feel supported as the President barely won, despite using ample and public resources to boost his “Yes”. The official outcome will be legally contested for many years and in various Turkish and European courtrooms. More important is that the President’s opposition is still vast and even slightly bigger than before the 2017 referendum.

The upcoming changes to the Turkish Constitution are dangerous. Perhaps even more dangerous when someone would succeed the current President. Before the constitutional changes, the AK Party would still rule after an early demise of its leader. After the changes, his early demise could spell trouble for the AK Party.

There's a certain link with the political situation in Egypt. Both the AK Party and the Muslim Brotherhood were once banned. When roles reversed, the military was succumbed in both countries. The return of the Egyptian military could still happen in Turkey. Their return is more likely after the upcoming constitutional changes. The referendum outcome makes the future succession of the Turkish President more rewarding.

Hence, it's unlikely that Turkey will become more stable. An early demise of the Turkish President even becomes an attractive option. He may thus have signed his own death warrant by this outcome, either by his own AK Party, his opponent Gülen, foreign nations, or the Turkish military.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.” Quote by Lord Acton (1887).

Blue Monday (1983) by New Order - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2