On Monday, Turks went to the polls to deliver a “yes” vote for a referendum that gives sweeping powers to the office of the presidency and could keep the country’s burgeoning authoritarian leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in power until 2029.
Erdogan and his party are hailing the victory as a clear mandate from the people, despite winning by a razor-thin margin. The opposition, however, claims the vote was rigged, and European observers report the election was unfair and “did not live up to Council of Europe standards.”
Either way, the vote marks a new chapter in Turkey’s history that will change the nature of its relationship with the West. If Turkey turns away from the West, as it appears to be doing, to whom will it turn? The uncomfortable answer might be: Russia.
Turkey Is Growing More Authoritarian Day by Day
Some observers argue the narrow win will ultimately undermine Erdogan’s authority, bring out more vocal opposition, and delegitimize the president. The “no” votes came largely from large cities and economic centers, prompting the notion that Erdogan’s concentration of authoritarian power isn’t sustainable.
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