03:13 GMT14 August 2020
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    With the outcome of the referendum in Turkey drawing nearer, it appears that the Turks are likely to vote "Yes" on granting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan executive powers. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Turkish journalist Ilhan Tanir.

    "Many people do not say how they are going to vote because they are scared to say it out loud. So this is one of the reasons why we don't know how this voting is going to turn out," Tanir told Radio Sputnik.

    According to the first preliminary results, the "Yes" vote is leading in the Turkish referendum on constitutional changes allowing for an expansion of presidential powers. Over 63 percent of Turkish voters support the constitutional amendments, the Electoral Commission announced.

    Nevertheless, the journalist believes that it is hard to find out how the situation really looks like. Almost all opposition media have been shut down and "now there is only state-run news agency Anadolou that is going to report this all," the journalist argued.

    According to him, even if results of the referendum will be "highly contested" this is unlikely to be mentioned by any of the media as a result of a major crackdown against activists and opposition journalists.

    Commenting on the coup attempt that took place in Turkey in summer 2016, Tanir said:

    "2016 was a very difficult year for Turkey. There was a coup attempt as we all know, and President Erdogan had every reason to counter those who tried to overthrow him illegally."

    At the same time, the journalist stressed that the Turkish president overcame all boundaries in order to maintain his power.

    "Mr. Erdogan went above and beyond anything imaginable after the coup. He hurt something close to 150,000 people and arrested tens of thousands of people. And 90 percent of the Turkish media are right now under Erdogan's control, close to 200 media organizations have been shut down and nearly 200 Turkish journalists are in jail," the journalist said, adding that the purge cannot be happening in a democratic country.

    On January 21, the Turkish parliament approved constitutional amendments that would strengthen the presidential powers over the legislature and the judiciary.

    If approved in the referendum, the president will also be able to remain the head of the political party he represents, have the ability to appoint a number of top judges and declare a state of emergency, which is not allowed by the current legislation. The decision was criticized by opposition parties as a power grab attempt by the president.


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    constitutional reform, referendum, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey
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