Turkish referendum: The end of the Ataturk era

Originally published in the Greek newspaper “Paraskinio” issue 575, p. 54 on Apr. 22, 2017

On the evening of April 16, 2017, democracy in Turkey was assassinated through democracy. Despite the marginal victory, despite the negative expectations that preceded the referendum, and suggested that Erdogan and his government lacked sufficient popular support to pass the constitutional amendments, despite the massive campaign of European media against them, despite the fact that Constantinople and Ankara betrayed him, AKP managed to pass the constitutional review through the ballot box. Democracy chose a man’s authority.
How did Erdogan manage to dictate a dictatorial rule in the eyes of 51.4% of Turkish citizens? This answer requires a realistic analysis away from feelings and blinkers. Turkey has recently faced many problems. Terrorist attacks have targeted the country more than 36 times last year. The Kurdish separatist actions on its southern border are strengthened. Also, the economic situation, despite the huge number of projects launched by the Turkish government last year and its efforts to support the Turkish lira, has not improved with the country heading for a dark tunnel. In the midst of all these complications, Erdogan used these problems as an incentive for citizens to accept constitutional amendments, putting them in front of two options: either to vote for the goal of Turkey being a strong country to cross this tunnel, or vote, not so that Turkey is power and unstable. Although this approach does not accurately reflect the truth, a large proportion of Turkish citizens have been persecuted. As past measures show that Erdogan will not get more than 35%, another important reason for differentiating the result was the actions of European governments to ban many Turkish officials from speeches in their countries. These actions, as many analysts have noted, may have been a common trick between Erdogan and the EU leaders, have stimulated nationalist feelings in the hearts of Turks living in Europe, and have been an important reason to vote positively on the constitutional amendments, as the election results have shown.
What is going on? The small majority gained by Erdogan, despite the fact that it allows him to proceed with the amendment of the constitution, will cause concern within the AKP. The Turkish people do not really want to have a President with absolute powers. Thus, things within Turkey will not change significantly. With regard to Erdogan’s relations with the West, and especially with the EU, he will not make any provocative move, in spite of rhetoric and statements intended for internal consumption. In relation to the Middle East countries, it is expected that Turkey is preparing a new military action in Syria to reduce the Kurdish threat, with a look at Racke and Manbjid. Finally, with regard to Greece, the situation will remain in the context of the war of communications between the two sides. In conclusion, we can say that the Atatürk era has finally been overcome for Turkey.
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