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Turkish referendum hogs the limelight for the wrong reasons

Arab media split on what the vote means for democracy in the regional power

Gulf News

The new Turkish referendum was the topic that dominated headlines in the region’s papers.

Turkey now is different from the country it once was prior to the referendum, and the results of the voting process means an end to democracy and secularism, said the UAE’s Al Khaleej.

“The constitutional amendment gives Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan powers that were never granted to any other president in any presidential system. He can appoint the government, judges and military leaders. Opposing parties are now under the control of the regime, and pressure can be exerted on minorities, such as Kurds and others. This possibly means the beginning of a new conflict in Turkey that might affect the country’s unity. Moreover, Erdogan’s success will lead to more concerns and fears from Europe regarding the violation of freedom and human rights in Turkey under the authority of one man, which might result in the deterioration of relations. Turkey’s regional relations will not fare any better. Either way, we have to wait and see what political approach Turkey will adopt on domestic, regional and international levels. The question is now whether Erdogan will utilise this victory in a positive manner, and take into consideration Turkey’s political, security and economic interests, or whether he will continue his confrontational approach to emphasise Turkey’s new policies in an attempt to join European nations and the Arab coalition.

Qatar’s Al Raya said the Turkish people paved the way for the largest change in the country’s political system, by voting in favour of the referendum, and this represents a new phase for building a democracy for Turkey.

“The vote also represents the Turkish people’s confidence in Erdogan. It is also a vote for the future of the country, thus preserving democracy and stability in Turkey and boosting its economic growth. By voting yes on the referendum, Turkey showed the world that it is firmly holding on to democracy and its leadership that brought about a political and economic shift in the country, turning it into a key regional power. Therefore, it is the right of the Turkish people to preserve these new achievements that will transport Turkey into a new phase in its history under the leadership of Erdogan.”

The Turks voted for a referendum that has many connotations that will change the face of the secularist country, said the London-based Pan-Arab paper Al Quds Al Arabi.

“The referendum represents the summit of the Ataturk republic’s success, as well as its failure. That republic had run its course and achieved what it set out to do, which was to consolidate parliamentary rule. Ironically, this led to a decline in the influence of the Ataturk ideology, allowing a new historic symbol to rise. One cannot argue when it comes to analysing the great challenges that Turkey poses to world powers, as the country is currently ranked the 17th largest economy and has the 15th largest military in the world. The question that presents itself here is whether this political regime, born from this referendum, is capable of continuing Erdogan’s massive economic achievements while overcoming the huge political challenges facing the country.

Regardless of the answer, the referendum will alter the nation’s internal dynamics. It will have a huge impact on geographical surroundings which link Turkey to Asia, the Middle East, the Islamic world and Europe.”