The powers that be in Europe (those would be the same folks the Marine Le Pens of the world are hell-bent on usurping) were less-than-enthusiastic about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s historic referendum victory, documented extensively here over the weekend.
And it’s easy to understand their trepidation.
After all, Erdogan probably rigged the vote. That’s not some conspiracy theory and certainly can’t be chalked up to wild speculation. This is Erdogan we’re talking about and if you aren’t familiar with just how much he hates losing, you’re encouraged to read the post linked above for the backstory behind the referendum.
The “yes” vote means Erdogan can consolidate power in the presidency and as more than one commentator joked, he’s effectively “Sultan” now. Indeed the whole thing is fall-in-the-floor funny to outside observers even as everyone is acutely aware that the power grab is anything but amusing to a whole lot of folks in Turkey.
Do yourself a favor and scan this from The Guardian:
European leaders offered a guarded response to the referendum result granting the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, sweeping new powers, although some senior EU figures said it was the end of the country’s decade-long attempt to join the bloc.
Serious concerns about the implications of the result were signalled by Berlin, Paris and Brussels, although their statements fell short of outright condemnation, despite concerns about the fairness of the campaign.
The Austrian chancellor, Christian Kern, issued the most forthright message, ruling out any future accession for Turkey to the EU. “With what happened yesterday, (Turkey’s) membership prospects are buried, in practical terms”, he said. “We are entering a new era”.
The country’s foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, added: “We can’t just go back to the daily routine after the Turkey referendum. We finally need some honesty in the relationship between the EU and Turkey”.
According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, 51.4% of Turkish voters cast their ballot in support of expanding the powers of the presidency, while the no vote had 48.6% support.
However, several Turkish opposition groups have claimed irregularities during the voting process, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe(OSCE) said on Monday that the referendum fell short of international standards. One Austrian observer, Stefan Schennach, alleged that “police twice blocked our observation”.
In a newspaper interview, the German foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said that if Ankara were to bring back the death penalty as Erdoğan had suggested on Sunday, the move would be “synonymous with the end of the European dream”.
“Any decision [about joining the EU] will not be on the agenda anytime soon. At any rate, joining would not work right now.,” he said.
Gabriel also issued a joint statement with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, suggesting Erdoğan should show restraint given the tightness of the poll. “The narrow result of the vote shows how deeply split the Turkish society is,” Merkel and Gabriel said. “This implies a big responsibility for the Turkish government and President Erdoğan personally.”
But while European leaders were cautious in their reaction, Donald Trump was not. Here’s WaPo:
President Trump called to congratulate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday after a referendum greatly expanding his powers, despite a more circumspect State Department response to Sunday’s vote, which international election observers declared unfair.
That’s right. Donald Trump is excited for Erdogan after a rigged vote that “greatly expanded” the powers of someone who is probably an illegitimate head of state.
Which makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
After all, if anyone knows something about rigging an election on the way to embarking on an attempt to consolidate undue power in the presidency, it’s Trump.