A time to be rational

Turkey votes yes in its first referendum in two decades

Turkey votes yes in its first referendum in two decades

Yesterday saw the acceptance by the Turkish people of a package of reforms that brings about some important changes to Turkey’s executive command, and more subtle – but no less substantial – changes to the workings of parliament. Unofficial results gave a solid “Yes” vote (69 percent), although turnout (67 percent) was the lowest recorded for a Turkish referendum.

The public consultation comes as Turkey is in the news for very different reasons, be it terrorism on the Iraqi border or Armenian bills in the US House of Representatives. The referendum has its roots in a government angry at not being able to elect its choice of president. Since then, there has been a general election, followed by a president one, and the number of dead in the southeast has been topped up by another few hundred. So the original motive for a public vote is gone, and there are other pressing things to worry about. Was the referendum worth it?

Of course it was. One of the reforms – electing the president by the people – is material to the way Turks are governed, and we now know Turks do want to choose their president in future. Turkish presidents from now on, including the incumbent Abdullah Gül, will serve no more than two five-year terms.

A less-trumpeted reform reduces the term of parliament to four years. This serves to formalise what has already been something of a tradition for Turkish parliaments for decades; it also reduces the possibility of a new president and parliament being chosen in the same year.

The other changes relate to quorum and voting procedures in parliament. The number of MPs needed for a session to be quorate is explicitly set out at 184 – a third of the total number of members plus one. This should prevent future brawls over the constitution like the one in the spring that annulled an attempt to elect Mr Gül and triggered an early general election.

Critics have dismissed the last change – and therefore the entire referendum – as a redundant, technical matter. They point to Mr Gül’s election, the fresh AK mandate, and the work on a new constitution. One critic on NTV last night described it as “madness” that any party would willingly want to reduce its own parliamentary term. But let it not be forgetten that it was a mere “technical” argument over 184 or 367 votes that gridlocked Turkish politics for a fortnight. It was all worth it if only to prevent that from happening again.

The decision to push ahead with the referendum is also a show of principled politics on the part of the AK party: it shows consistency and a belief that a public vote is a way to put issues to the people, not just an avenue to push their man to the top.

The critics do have one very important point. It had not been entirely clear whether Mr Gül would have to immediately step down and contest a direct president election if there was a yes vote. Parliament voted just last week to clear up that anomaly, but voters based outside of Turkey had already been voting on the original text at border checkpoints since September. You can’t change the rules after the game has started, however small the change might be.

The Turkish press has been remarkably uninterested in the news this morning, and that is unsurprising. The referendum coincided with the deaths of twelve Turkish soldiers in a PKK attack on the village of Dağlıca, close to the Iraqi border. Up to thirty terrorists were killed in the hot pursuit that followed, but army sources estimate there were up to 150 PKK members involved and most of them had disappeared back over the border. No country can tolerate attacks of this size and frequency for long.

The big question is whether the AK government will use its fresh parliamentary approval to launch a cross-border raid into Iraq and seek out the PKK camps. The answer is that Turkey has about as much right to enter Iraq as coalition forces did in 2003. The reality is that a raid would probably have little effect, just like the twenty-four attempts that preceeded it. But this is a country that is getting impatient and insecure. Acumen doesn’t come into it.

blogspot visit counter
  1. The answer is that Turkey has about as much right to enter Iraq as coalition forces did in 2003.

    Slightly more. There is reason to assume that the Turkish intelligence is accurate!

    One thing which is becoming very evident is that the Turkish authorities really don’t want to go in, but pressure is building.

    We shall see.

    On the referendum issue, I wonder how much the result was skewed by people following the Generals and Baykal’s example and refusing to vote…or simply preferring to rush out and wave flags (which in this case I totally understand and approve of) instead of voting (which I do NOT approve of).

    Yet again the CHP spits at democracy and yet again they eat a quince.

    When will they learn?

  2. yet again they eat a quince.

    Good one. I think it had to be “eat the quince” though.

    Of course, Turkey wouldn’t want to go in. If serious (i.e., to get real results), she would have to go in a la Cyprus, maybe more than that, and completely dominate the KRG territory. (Let’s not forget the Iraqi Turcoman population; they could plausibly become direct targets in a protracted Turkish engagement with NI Kurds. Short of that, she could bomb the mountainous border zone into a plain field (if physically or financially possible, which I believe is not).

  3. One critic on NTV last night described it as “madness” that any party would willingly want to reduce its own parliamentary term.

    AKP is rising because demographics (birthrates) are in their favour. It is in their interest to have more frequent elections since it will mean more seats quicker.

    Same reason to want a democratic president. To stick “democracy” up the noses of secularists who have few children compared to fundamentalist Muslims.

    “principled politics on the part of the AK party”. Ha, ha. AKP is riding their democracy bus until they are ready to get off at Islamistan. Erdgoan:

    “…democracy is a bus, we can get off anytime we want.”

    Lana in Australia (I see you have another Lana commenter. I am not her).

  4. Awesome blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused ..
    Any suggestions? Cheers!

  5. certainly like your web site but you have to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very troublesome to inform the truth nevertheless I will certainly come back again.

  6. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and
    now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Thank you!

  7. Wonderful beat ! I wish to apprentice even as you amend your site, how
    can i subscribe for a blog web site? The
    account aided me a acceptable deal. I were tiny bit familiar of this your broadcast provided vivid transparent concept

  8. Good day! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  9. History prednisone tablet strength „We’ll know everything that was said in the cockpit,” saidNational Transportation Safety Board investigator RobertSumwalt. „I personally breathed a huge sigh of relief once Ilearned we had good data.”

  10. Thanks for finally talking about > საინტერესო ფაქტები ალექსანდრე მაკედონელის ცხოვრებიდან– qronika.ge Also visit my blog post: hipertorrentfilmes.com

  11. Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Spending some time and actual effort to generate a good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I procrastinate a whole lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.

  12. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you’re a great author.I willalways bookmark your blog and definitely will come back later on. I want to encourage you to continue yourgreat posts, have a nice afternoon!

  13. A motivating discussion is worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you shouldpublish more about this issue, it may not be a taboo subjectbut typically folks don’t talk about these issues.To the next! Kind regards!!

  14. I am not sure where you are getting your information, but good topic.I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.Thanks for fantastic information I was looking for this information for my mission.

  15. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. I am hoping to see the same high-grade content from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own blog now 😉

  16. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Extremely useful information specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this certain info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

  17. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this
    for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some
    experience with something like this. Please let me know if you
    run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

  18. Hey there! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this page to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Hi there would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using?

    I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future
    but I’m having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.

    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely
    unique. P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I
    had to ask!

  20. Hi there! This post could not be written any better!Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!He constantly kept preaching about this. I’ll send this post to him.Fairly certain he will have a great read. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your articles?

    I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything.
    Nevertheless think about if you added some great
    pictures or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with pics and video clips, this blog
    could undeniably be one of the greatest in its niche.
    Superb blog!

  22. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Appreciate it!

  23. Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a
    blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation;
    many of us have developed some nice methods and we are looking to exchange methods with others, be
    sure to shoot me an email if interested.

  24. This is a subject that I have been investigating. You have made it much easier. I find your viewpoint instead one-of-a-kind and also totally satisfying. Comparable to my very own, but different. Thank you for testing my ideas.

Leave a Reply
Related Posts