On Sunday, Turkey’s deplorably weak democracy died. Erdogan’s power-grab succeeded, ending it.
The constitutional referendum lets him declare emergency rule and govern by decree, including dissolving parliament and calling new elections if he wishes.
An OSCE observer mission monitoring the referendum campaign and Sunday’s vote raised serious questions about its legitimacy.
Procedures “fell short” of international standards, it said. Numerous irregularities occurred. On April 17, an OSCE press release said in part:
“The 16 April constitutional referendum in Turkey was contested on an unlevel playing field, and the two sides in the campaign did not have equal opportunities.”
“(L)imitations on fundamental freedoms had a negative effect…(T)he referendum did not live up to Council of Europe standards. The legal framework was inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic process.”
“The referendum took place in a political environment in which fundamental freedoms essential to a genuinely democratic process were curtailed under the state of emergency, and the two sides did not have equal opportunities to make their case to the voters.”
“(T)he ‘Yes’ campaign dominated the media coverage and this, along with restrictions on the media, the arrests of journalists and the closure of media outlets, reduced voters’ access to a plurality of views.”
“We observed the misuse of state resources, as well as the obstruction of ‘No’ campaign events. The campaign rhetoric was tarnished by some senior officials equating ‘No’ supporters with terrorist sympathizers, and in numerous cases ‘No’ supporters faced police interventions and violent scuffles at their events.”
Trump ignored campaign and voting irregularities, a manipulated process, letting Erdogan triumph illegitimately.
He called Turkey’s president, congratulated him on his triumph, and thanked him for supporting his April 7 aggression on Syria.
A meaningless State Department statement said:
“We look to the government of Turkey to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all its citizens – regardless of their vote on April 16 – as guaranteed by the Turkish Constitution and in accordance with Turkey’s international commitments, such as under the Helsinki Charter.”
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov issued a statement, saying “(t)he referendum is absolutely a sovereign affair of the Turkish Republic. We believe that everyone should respect the expression of will of the Turkish people.”
Despotism triumphed. Washington and Moscow ignored it.