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"Turkey's vote makes Erdoğan effectively a dictator"


At the New Yorker website, Dexter Filkins writes about the results of last weekend’s referendum in Turkey, in which voters, by a narrow margin, granted President Erdoğan sweeping new powers. Filkins laments the results as the crossing of an alarming threshold—from democracy to dictatorship. Check out an excerpt from the piece below, or read the full text here.

On Sunday, Erdoğan declared himself the winner of a nationwide referendum that all but brings Turkish democracy to an end. The vast new powers granted to Erdoğan—wide control over the judiciary, broad powers to make law by decree, the abolition of the office of the Prime Minister and of Turkey’s parliamentary system—effectively make him a dictator. Under the new rules, Erdoğan will be able to run for two more five-year terms, giving him potentially another decade in power, at least. With a vote by the now truncated parliament, he would be able to run for yet another term, one that would end in 2034. By then, he’ll be an old man.

The voting took place in a government-created atmosphere of violence, intimidation, and fear. Turks campaigning against the referendum were attacked and even shot at. For much of the past year, Erdoğan’s government has been working to stamp out what remained of the democratic opposition to his rule. Since July, some forty thousand people have been detained, including a hundred and fifty journalists. A hundred thousand government employees have been fired, and a hundred and seventy-nine television stations, newspapers, and other media outlets have been closed. Many opposition leaders are in jail. That’s not an environment conducive to asking a populace what it wants.

The vote was close—very close—and there are many accusations of fraud. It did seem hard, in the lead-up to Sunday, to imagine that Erdoğan would allow himself to lose. (He did not even permit international observers to monitor the vote.) In the end, to solidify his position, Erdoğan was compelled to strike an unlikely deal with the M.P.H., an ultra-nationalist party that had previously opposed him. Without the ultra-nationalists, who can’t be expected to be enduring Erdoğan allies, the referendum vote may well have failed. Not that it will matter much now—the margin may have been close, but you can expect Erdoğan to exercise his new prerogatives fully. “It means the country is totally split,’’ James Jeffrey, a former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, told me. “Half the country loves him, and half the country loathes him.”

Image of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan via the New Yorker.


honestly I was thrilled to see such discussion since I believe that this should be one of the main discourses as the situation in turkey, being a shockingly devistating step towards dictatorship, deeply needs to be considered by socities all around the world.
but sadly as I kept reading I was disappointed by the content;
with falsely written name of one of the three main parties,
with conclusions such as erdogan had been seen as a bridge between east and west - he had clearly outlined his thoughts on how turkey and the current regime should be purified from the western traces and that turkey is and should be a totally muslim country by itself, forgetting the non-mulim minorities in the country, he wasn’t even the bridge between the muslim and the non-mulim population in his own country,
with the deficiency of the investigation of Erdogan calling democracy a train - it’s not an urban myth, he indeed said that democracy is a tool not a purpose and ‘we’ must get off when ‘we’ reach our point in an interview on 14.07.1996 on the newspaper Milliyet and on other occasions, which is a kind of information that should be accesible to any journalist/investigator willing to gain it.
as a citizen of turkey recently attended the turkish referendum and have been living through the Erdogan ‘leadership’, my impression about the whole article is that it was written in order to fulfill the demand of writing something on Turkish referendum and feels pretty superficial. the article ends neither with a comment nor an analysis and it wanders around the widely known informative guidelines.
I also want to highlight that I’m not here to discuss neither politics nor Erdogan’s leadership, I rather wanted to point out my opinion on the tone of the article and for the interested all this information can be traced back even just to that one newspaper article mentioned above.


Any discussion on Turkey would be lacking in scope unless it included the international context in which Turkish politics from the 1950s onwards was in close conformity with the politics of the cold war. Hence the two military coups of 1971 and 1980, backed by the “secular elite”, which never ever targeted either the religious people or the fundamentalists, but only and only those who placed themselves on the left. Similarly the current ruling party in Turkey is best understood when seen in light of the neoliberalization of Turkey in an international context which is a project dating back to the late 80’s. Hence the “Turkish model” referring to a moderate version of Islam working in harmony with an increasingly agressive global capitalism. The ruling party was, and is, part of that project. Only however, the model has collapsed to reveal the fact that there is no such thing as “moderate Islam” once Islam is allowed to associate itself with political power like any religion would be. It should suffice to say that the current political developments in Turkey beg to be read with the international context in mind, a challenge I dare not take as things seem far too complicated and shifty for the time being.