Turkey is set to vote on political referendums on the 16th of March that could result in a move from the traditional Republic system that has been present since 1923 to a Presidential system that has many European governments fearful of an authoritarian Erdogan government. If the referendum were to pass it would allow for the confrontational Turkish Prime Minister to be allowed to run for two more consecutive terms, conceivably allowing for an Erdogan led establishment that could legally rule until 2029.
That is quite a long time and this move is being seen by many as a power play by the current leader to ensure his reign would last into the foreseeable future and also stokes fears that Erdogan could use a victory in the polls this week to eventually establish an authoritarian or totalitarian government that may not be keen on relinquishing control when his term is legally ended.
To assist in the prevention of what many European leaders see as a very grave threat to Turkey and by extension, Europe, officials in Germany, France and Holland have intervened in rallies held by the thousands of Turkish expats who are allowed to vote this week and prevented Turkish officials present in said countries to speak to the gathered crowds in support of the act. This has, naturally, been ill-received by Edogan and his multitude of supporters and is being blasted as a sign of “Fascism” and “Oppression”. Sadly ironic considering that the actions are being taken by nations afraid that the leader will use new powers to become an ironfisted ruler. Something that may have some merit when there have been 41,000 people arrested and over 100,00 removed from public and government work since a failed coup last year.
Holland has borne the bulk of Erdogan’s attacks after it blocked the entry of Mevlut Cavusoglu, a Turkish Foreign Minister, into Rotterdam and escorted prevented foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam as well as physically escorting Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, Turkey’s Family Minister to Germany. Both actions prevented the Turkish officials from speaking to thousands of Turkish Immigrants whose votes Erdogan sees as key to pushing his referendum through. Turkey has closed the Dutch Embassy and expelled the nations diplomats but has not stopped there in its quest to bully Europe into submission.
In a somewhat brazen act, Erdogan has threatened to exit its agreement with the E.U. to support over 2 million refugees and force the immigrants into mainland Europe, a move that will only further serve to ignite the already precarious powder keg that is the current refugee crises plaguing France, Germany, Sweden and other E.U. members. This is of course not the first time Turkey has played this card in an attempt to try and strong arm the E.U. into giving the country what it wants. The threat also seems rather short sighted as it will surely only further the spread of the Populist views that continue to view refugees and Islam and its states in an unfavorable light. With the Dutch election this week and Marine Le Pen continuing to surge in France, as well as an embattled Merkel’s end seemingly looming on the horizon, Turkey pocketing 3 million dollars in Euro’s with which to support its current refugees and then dumping them onto Europe will only fuel the growth of Populism in Europe.