Turks Vote on Controversial Referendum
by Stephen Lendman
On Sunday, Turkish voters are deciding up or down on whether to replace its parliamentary system with a presidential one.
At stake is giving wannabe-sultan Erdogan vastly increased authority or rejecting his attempted power-grab.
He already rules with an iron fist. If adopted, an 18-article constitutional amendment will grant him greater concentrated power.
Changes would abolish the office of prime minister and the cabinet. Erdogan would have authority to rule by decree, giving him virtual dictatorial power – other than not being able to circumvent existing laws.
He’d be able to declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and state officials, as well as dissolve parliament and call new elections – for legislators and president.
He could also structurally change Turkey’s two key supreme judicial bodies – the Constitutional Court and Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).
HSYK members would be reduced from 22 to 13, four directly appointed by the president, others by parliament.
The justice minister and undersecretary would remain HSYK members. The Constitutional Court would have 15 judges, 12 appointed by the president, others by parliament.
In March, the Venice Commission of he Council of Europe denounced Erdogan’s attempted power-grab, saying:
“(T)he substance of the proposed constitutional amendments represents a dangerous step backwards in the constitutional democratic tradition of Turkey.”
“The Venice Commission wishes to stress the dangers of degeneration of the proposed system toward an authoritarian and personal regime.”
“In addition, the timing is most unfortunate and is itself cause of concern: the current state of emergency does not provide for the due democratic setting for a constitutional referendum.”
Heading into Sunday’s referendum, polls showed voters evenly divided on whether to grant Erdogan powers he seeks. Results could go either way.
In January, Turkish MPs approved changing the country’s governance from a parliamentary to presidential system.
By law, voters have final say by national referendum. After January’s vote, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said “now it is up to the people to decide.”
Much rides on which way they go.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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