Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has raised objections to the actions of the country’s electoral board in the conduct of Sunday’s referendum on whether to expand the powers of the president.
Turkey’s President Erdogan is firing back against those accusing him of trying to become a dictator. From a Reuters report on Monday:
“A defiant Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan denounced the West’s ‘crusader mentality’ Monday after European monitors criticized a referendum to grant him sweeping new powers, won with a narrow victory laying bare the nation’s divisions.”
Speaking at his palace, he accused his detractors of hypocrisy and said Turkey no longer cares what the West thinks of it.
“We neither see, hear, nor acknowledge the political reports you’ll prepare,” he said. “We’ll continue on our path. Talk to the hand. This country has carried out the most democratic elections, not seen anywhere in the West.”
The vote comes in the wake of a coup attempt last year, after which President Erdogan initiated a highly controversial crackdown on political dissent.
Speaking with USA Today, the University of Cambridge’s Banu Turnaoglu said the election results show that in Turkey, “there’s a very narrow understanding of democracy, because they supported these previous measures of authoritarianism.”
Addressing Erdogan’s reaction to criticism over his increased governmental control — part of which, thus far, has been to tell those in the West to “know your place!” — Turnaoglu says the geopolitical fate of Turkey will now rest squarely on Erdogan’s shoulders.
“If Erdogan reacts to this criticism with emotions and anger,” he said, “it will make Turkey more isolationist, nationalist and Islamic. It will become more unstable.”
Erdogan stated also that he plans to reintroduce the death penalty, a move that would effectively end any chance of Turkey gaining entry into the European Union.
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