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Historic vote spells changes for Turkey's future


04-15-2017 14:29 BJT

(Source: CGTN)

58 million Turks are registered to vote in Sunday's referendum. Turkish citizens are voting in a referendum on whether to change their country's constitution and give more power to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The real question is, would these changes help or hurt a country crucial to the balance of power in the region?

Turkey has changed considerably in the last few years. An increase in terrorist attacks and a disintegration of relations with most neighbors has taken Turkey from the world’s second most robust economy to now looking ‘beaten and bruised’ in the words of one analyst.

Bringing back the glory days of the past is one of the main arguments the government makes in support of their proposed 18 constitutional changes, which include enabling the president to appoint ministers, top state and judicial officials, dissolve the parliament and declare emergency rule.

"We've been in trouble because of the loopholes in the governmental system not twice, but maybe 22 times. There is no point in insisting on the current system," Erdogan said.

Many feel the current parliamentary system as depicted in the constitution has stalled Turkey’s progress.

Turkey's current constitution was produced in 1982 by a committee dominated largely by Turkey's military. The yes camp argue the proposed 18 article constitutional reforms are needed to reflect the very different and difficult times we are in. Yet, the No camp argue that Erdogan is the architect of many of those difficulties.

So how did Turkey get here?

"There was economic growth in early 2000s.In the last few years, what we see, is that the tide has changed. The current government thinks the solution to instability lies in monopolizing more power and turning more authoritarian through democratic means," said Ozan Seker, political analyst.

Yet, some citizens would disagree.

"The No camps argument here is look, the world has changed and we have to change with it. Moving away from this extremely nationalist, Islamist, local ideology – they see it as the source of instability in this globalized world," Ozan Seker said.

If the majority of voters say No – will reject the need for reforms that Erodgan argues would streamline policy implementation. If the Yes vote wins it would give Erodgan sweeping new presidential powers and possibly let him rule for more than a decade. Either way, Turkey is headed for tougher times says Seker.

"I think we will see a stronger polarization of the country.This is the difference between referendums and general elections is that there is only one question, it is either yes or no, there is no grey zone.So if it’s a question of everything being black and white, I’m not sure how that brings stability," Seker said.

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