Turkey to hold constitutional referendum tomorrow
Former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke before Erdogan at a "Yes" rally in the Anatolian city of Konya on Friday but, to the amusement of opposition commentators, failed once to endorse the presidential system. In Kulunk's office on Camlica Hill, once a hunting ground for the Ottoman well-to-do and now a popular viewing point, a signed picture of Erdogan hung on the wall next to portraits of Ataturk and Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid. Yet there is much more riding on the outcome than one man's political fortunes. Turkey has yet to enjoy many of those benefits, including a visa-free travel for its citizens to Europe and accelerated talks for joining the EU. All hell broke loose when the two allies turned on each other. Indeed, there are growing signs that they would not have the slightest problem backing an Erdogan dictatorship created by a "yes" vote, as long as Erdogan does their bidding. When army officers close to the movement were accused of spearheading a violent coup in the summer of 2016, the purge intensified. Within months, he'd quashed a corruption probe targeting his government by purging police and judges he accused of being sympathizers of his former ally Fethullah Gulen, an influential USA -based Islamic preacher with millions of followers. It concludes, "If Mr Erdogan loses, Turkey will be a hard ally with a hard future". The new constitution would make the justice system even more beholden to Mr Erdogan and his party.
Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said lately that over 250,000 security personnel and more than 120,000 members of the gendarmerie had been posted to ensure the security of the referendum across the country. The rest are elected by their peers. None of the appointments would be subject to hearings.
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What's in the new constitution?These powers have also limited the role of Parliament. Upon becoming prime minister in 2003, Erdogan managed to place civilian oversight over military expenditures and gutted the generals' hold on the National Security Council. A victory would echo the forces that powered Donald Trump to the White House, pushed Britain out of the European Union and put Marine Le Pen within shouting distance of the French presidency. He has ridden a wave of patriotism since an abortive coup in July, casting Turkey as at peril from a cocktail of outside forces and in need of strong leadership to see off threats from Islamic State, Kurdish militants, the enemies within who tried to oust him and their foreign backers. Proposing an investigation would require a simple majority in pariament, but opening one would require 60% of MPs to agree. Until recently, the president was an appointed position serving as head of state, not head of government - similar to the queen of England. The president will be able to declare a state of emergency without necessary cabinet approval and to draft the budget, which is now drawn up by parliament.
Concerns about how Mr Erdogan might use this power are not just theoretical. "If the president is not speaking out, if he acknowledges it, then what would be the decision of nationalists - who are against a federal structure and support a unitary one - be (in the referendum) in two days?"
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