Turks Vote in Favor of Erdogan’s Dream

Turkey

Ankara – Turks voted on Sunday in favor of the constitutional amendments proposed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – these amendments would change the country’s regime from a parliamentary to a presidential one.

More than 51% voted “yes” for the amendments while 48% voted against them and in this way the dream of Erdogan to expand his powers was achieved and the way is paved for him to remain a president until 2029. However, this is viewed by opposing parties as a nightmare.

This referendum was controversial by which the Turkish opposition – represented in the Republican People’s Party and the Peoples’ Democratic Party – rejected the batch of amendments composed of 18 items while the Nationalist Movement Party approved it.

Turnover exceeded 80% with 53.561 million people voting in 176,140 ballot boxes in addition to 461 voting boxes for prisoners.

Surprisingly, around 67% in Netherlands, 62% in Germany, 80% in Belgium, 59% in France and 71% in Austria voted in favor of Erdogan’s proposal while 85% of Turks in America voted against it.

Results were highly close to those of the latest polls before the referendum that have shown a slight difference in favor of the amendments’ backers.

Istanbul, considered one of the electoral strongholds of the Justice and Development Party, did not witness a majority’s vote in favor of the party – also in Ankara 50.3% voted a “no”.

Opposing parties said that this referendum is a step towards additional tyranny in a country where more than 47,000 were imprisoned and more than 140,000 were dismissed during a campaign post the failed coup in July, leading to criticizing Turkey by its allies in the West and the international rights organization.

On the contrary, backers of the constitutional amendments considered that moving to the presidential regime will consolidate Turkey’s position globally, increase investments, strengthen economy and attract more foreign capitals to the country.

Opinion: Hillary Clinton – the Ideal Choice in Normal Circumstances

In normal circumstances, and in an established democracy like the USA, there would not have been a need to choose between the two presidential candidates.

In an advanced and sophisticated institutions-based country, the presidential primaries should have been enough to differentiate between a serious politician and a maverick gate-crasher; between real programmes and protest posturing; and finally, between responsible and rational approaches that put attainable choices and unadulterated solutions before the American electorate and cheap populism that drags political discourse into the lowest abyss of personal slander, contradictory promises, and sickening out-biddings.

Given all the above, a candidate like Donald Trump should not have been picked as the official candidate of one of the two parties of government in America, i.e. the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, in the first place.

However, we are most certainly not in normal times or circumstances. The value system of America today is not the one that built the most powerful country, the most advanced educational system, and the most vibrant and energetic economy in the world.

True, protest is not something new to politics. Accidental and controversial politicians have appeared during certain periods in American history, but political life in the USA has so far remained covered by broad political and social consensus.

At one stage in the mid – 20th century, there was a large group inside the Democratic Party, namely in the states of the ‘Old South’, that was ideologically more conservative than the Republicans of the North and Northeast. This, however, began to gradually change as the North and Northeast moved towards the Democrats, while the Southern states which gave America its last three Democratic presidents before Barack Obama (Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy carter and Bill Clinton) steadily became solid Republican strongholds.

Indeed, Prof Paul Krugman, the noted academic, writer and Nobel laureate, said something quite interesting in a lecture he gave in London a few years ago. Krugman said “In today’s America there is not a single Republican anymore who is to the Left of the Democrats, and not one Democrat who stands to the Right of the Republicans”. Obviously, what he meant was that ideological polarization in America is now complete; and each of the two main parties now had its clear-cut political criteria: the Democrats are the social and religious liberals who respect individual freedoms as much as they cherish social rights, support state intervention in one way or another, support public peace and collective responsibility that insure safety nets for the underprivileged and minority groups. They also tolerate racial, gender, religious and sectarian diversity.

In the opposite camp, the Republicans are now the religious, sectarian and social conservatives who vigorously uphold absolute individual freedom even at the expense of public good, view safety nets as restrictive to these freedoms and regard government intervention as a hindrance to individual ambition and detrimental to free enterprise, success and greatness. In fact, hawkish Republicans go even further, preaching that America must go back to the one built by the ‘founding fathers’, i.e. a white, Christian homeland closed off to outsiders and foreigners.

The latter is exactly the choice that was recently put forward to American voters; and due to the clear-cut difference between the Democrat and Republican candidates, we are witnessing two noteworthy phenomena:

The first is that due to solidified political positions of the two parties’ support bases, any movement or shift is becoming virtually impossible as are the chances of listening, convincing and compromise. Such a situation has led to a nasty and vicious campaign.

The second is that the two partisan bases now reflect contradictory ‘value systems’ that pose a real threat to social harmony, and subsequently public peace.

Going back to “in normal circumstances”, I would say Hillary Clinton deserved to win because she is a wise, rational, moderate and experienced politician.

Trump, on the other hand, is an unscrupulous ‘populist’, who is willing to gamble anything, and say anything. It is truly unfortunate that Americans have grown so hateful toward the ‘political establishment’ in Washington that they voted for such a candidate.

Saudi Women are Victorious in the First Municipal Elections They Participate in

Saudi women leaving a polling station in Riyadh after casting their votes in the municipal council elections (EPA)
Saudi women leaving a polling station in Riyadh after casting their votes in the municipal council elections (EPA)

The results of municipal elections held in Saudi Arabia on Saturday in which women voted and participated as candidates for the first time have been announced. 20 women won seats in the municipal councils alongside 2086 men. 4 women were elected in Riyadh, making it the city with the highest number of female seats won.

The Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and President of the General Committee for Municipal Elections Abdullatif bin Abdulmalik bin Omar Al-Ashaikh announced yesterday that 2106 individuals, of them 20 women, were elected to be members of the municipal councils. He added that the voter turnout was 47.4% (702,542 voters).

Al-Ashaikh mentioned that these elections will prepare the elected councillors for success in light of the recent developments in important matters, features and abilities of the municipal councils. He added that he hopes the councillors will help the municipal system to fulfil its tasks and responsibilities.

The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) in Saudi Arabia pointed out 9 negative observations on the progress of the day of the election during its observation of the electoral process. These included the continuity of some candidates’ advertising campaigns in the form of text messages in addition to the absence of candidates’ representatives who were allowed to observe in most polling stations. 14 positive observations were also made during the course of the electoral process.

The President of the National Society for Human Rights Dr Muflih Al-Qahtani noted that amongst the negatives was the fact that although most of the polling stations were easy to reach, a limited number of them were not easily accessible. Some problems regarding the fairness of electoral campaign conditions and the necessary authorisation for that were also noted, and the General Election Committee exerted efforts to overcome this.

The Committee also noted in its report some of the difficulties faced by women to provide proof of their identities or addresses. The NSHR noted that the authorities supervising the elections tried to facilitate this matter by minimising the impact that this had on the right of women to vote.