sábado, 26 de noviembre de 2016

Erdoğan hopes to win a referendum next year to dramatically increase his presidential powers.

Turkey's Erdoğan Continues Harsh Repression of Political Opponents

by Stephen Schwartz and Veli Sirin

Turkey's Islamist president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, appears as the sole person in his country's politics who knows what he wants. Erdoğan seeks absolute power and acts against all obstacles to his ambitions. He is eager to identify new "enemies" whose purported conspiracies he believes justify his harsh rule.

Through the end of October and most of November, Erdoğan has carried out a spree of enhanced repressive measures. This latest onslaught reflects his current fixation on a referendum, proposed for spring 2017, to ratify or reject constitutional amendments that would provide a dramatic increase in his presidential powers.

To hold the referendum, Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) must first gain a parliamentary majority authorizing its placement on the national ballot. The party needs 330 legislative votes, out of 550, to permit the referendum. AKP won 317 deputies in the national elections of November 2015. AKP lacks the two-thirds majority, or 367 parliamentary seats, to allow immediate enactment of the constitutional changes.

Erdoğan is promised a coalition majority of 357 for a referendum by joining with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has 40 seats. MHP is an extremist party with a background of anti-secularist violence during the 1970s and anti-Kurdish agitation.

From 2012 to 2015 the Turkish authorities conducted a "peace process" with the Turkish Kurds. Erdoğan sought backing from the Kurdish-dominated People's Democratic Party (HDP)—the third biggest force in the national legislature, with 59 deputies, after the November 2015 election—for his reinforcement of the presidency. When the HDP declined to support him, the ceasefire collapsed and fighting resumed in Turkey's Kurdish southeast.

On November 4, HDP chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş was arrested, as noted by the Guardian, with at least 10 of his colleagues in the party's leadership. The HDP representatives' parliamentary immunity from prosecution was abolished this year.


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