The Fallout from Turkey’s Constitutional Referendum
By Todd Strandberg
Turkey will hold a constitutional referendum on April 16th. Voters will decide on amendments that would change the structure of governance in the country from a parliamentary system to a presidential one—which will greatly increase the powers of the president. This special vote has been called by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to give him the power to combat terrorists.
Additionally, the changes would conveniently give Erdogan the sole authority to appoint or dismiss vice presidents, ministers and high state officials. He could legislate by decree and set Turkey’s national budget without parliamentary approval. Erdogan would have the power to dissolve parliament and trigger parliamentary and presidential elections. He would also be able to run for two five-year terms, and subsequent terms by simply dissolving parliament before the end of his current term.
If the constitutional amendments are accepted, the parliament would lose all the authority to monitor the executive branch. Erdogan and his underlings would have a total liberty to act as they please. The parliament would continue to have the authority to draft and enact laws, but anything it passes could be struck down by the president. Since Erdogan controls the puppet parliament, there is little possibility of a conflict.
The citizens of the Turkey are basically voting to make official Erdogan’s dictatorship. His willingness to put the matter to a vote, shows his intention to mask his despotism with flowery words.
The referendum will have little effect on the current mechanism of Turkey’s government. Since the failed coup of last July, Erdogan has ruled the nation with an iron fist. The vote would only make permanent the emergency powers that the president has already assumed.
Independent media in Turkey have been all but silenced with over 160 media outlets and publishing houses closed down, and over 120 journalists and media workers currently jailed pending trial. Over 100,000 civil servants have been summarily dismissed or suspended without due process and over 47,000 people have been jailed pending trial.
Anyone trying to start an opposition newspaper can expect to be charged with supporting terrorism. If Turkish prosecutors have their way, some journalists could spend the rest of their lives in prison for daring to oppose the government.
President Erdogan may not recognize (admit) fascism in his own government, but he’s quick to identify it in other countries. He scolded the Netherlands for allowing Will Geert to run for office. Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul, “I thought Nazism was over, but I was wrong.”
When tensions erupted between Berlin and Ankara over the right for Turkish operatives to rally Germany-based Turks, Erdogan compared Germany’s government with that of the Nazi era.
Erdogan also has very thin skin when it comes to satire aimed in his direction. When German comedian Jan Böhmermann made fun of Erdogan, the Turkish government demanded his arrest.
The negotiation process for Turkey’s EU membership began in 2005, but has been at a standstill for years. The lack of freedom in Turkey was the main stumbling block. The passing of the April 16th referendum will likely make membership impossible. The EU would have to ignore a key rule that bans member states from being run by a dictator.
Erdogan has cleverly headed off an embarrassing rejection by calling for a referendum on EU membership. He can have his minions vote to walk away from EU membership, and then he can easily deflect criticism by saying he is just following the will of the people.
Turkey has a pinnacle role to play in Bible prophecy. At some point Russia and a horde of Middle East countries will launch a surprise attack against Israel. Erdogan has already made it clear that he is ready to join forces with Russia. If next week’s vote sets up Erdogan as the absolute ruler of Turkey, there will be no political force left to prevent him from fulfilling his destiny.
“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:
And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee” (Ezekiel 38:1-6).