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#FactOfTheDay: Turkish constitutional referendum did not meet international standards

« It only remains for me to hold a referendum on the abolition of referendum » – duBus

There is a growing number of statements criticizing the organization and holding of the referendum on stronger presidential powers whose non official result shows the « Yes » vote at 51.4% in favour of Recep Tayyip Erdogan camp.

Those declarations come from several institutions such as the Council of Europe, the European Commission, the OSCE or even the United States and Austria. The representative of the mission of observers said that « the referendum did not live up to Council of Europe standards ». He mentionned an inadequate legal framework and last-minute changes in the counting process.

The Turkish President is not concerned about the slim majority he got at the referendum, nor about these reports calling into question the validity of the polling on Sunday April 16th. By the way, he is planning to have another go by proposing a second referendum on the reinstatement of the death penalty – abolished in 2004 as a result of a referendum-, as well as an other one on the continuation of Turkey’s accession negotiations to the European Union.

The first topic is considered as a red line not to cross by Brussels. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in the Bild newspaper, stated that bringing back death penalty would be « synonymous with the end of the European dream » for Turkey. « It is in its own interest not to distance itself further from Europe » the minister continued.

But in his victory speech on Monday, Erdogan rejected the views of the European Union. « Our concern is not what George, or Hans, or Helga says. Our concern is what Hatice, Ayse, Fatma, Ahmet, Mehmet, Hasan, Hüseyin says. What Allah says. That’s why our parliament will make this decision ».

It seems difficult for Ankara to de-escalate the situation as the referendum result has left the country divided. EU Commission urged the Turkish authorities « to seek the broadest possible national consensus ». Stability inside the country is vital in order to then discuss on a bilateral, regional and international level.

Relations between Turkey and EU appear to have reached an all-time low. Ankara indeed introduced its request for membership of the European Union as soon as 1987. Turkey’s accession negotiations have been at a standstill for years, but neither of the parties are resigned to abandon them formally.

This afternoon, MEPs will debate about this referendum with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini during the plenary session in Brussels.

Marine Pernod

Sources :

  • Joint statement by President Juncker, High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini and Commissioner Hahn on the referendum in Turkey

  • Statement by the Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland on the outcome of the Turkish constitutional referendum

  • OSCE/ODIHR declaration

  • BILLETTE (A.), « Un futur superprésident et une Turquie divisée », La Libre, 18 avril 2017
  • JONES (D.), « Challenges to contested Turkish referendum grow », Voanews, 21 avril 2017

  • GENUIS (G.), « What we can learn from the Turkish referendum about immigration », HuffPost Canada, 24 avril 2017 

Adeline Silva Pereira

Après avoir effectué la deuxième année du master Sécurité Globale analyste politique trilingue à l'Université de Bordeaux, j'effectue un stage au sein d'EU Logos afin de pouvoir mettre en pratique mes compétences d'analyste concernant l'actualité européenne sur la défense, la sécurité et plus largement la coopération judiciaire et policière.

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