On April 16, the people of Turkey voted on one of the most important referendums to come before them. The choice they faced? Whether or not to give their President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, dictatorial powers.
Naturally, this referendum vote was never going to be a simple matter. The Turkish President himself was the one "asking" his people to give him sweeping new powers, and he clearly was never going to accept "no" for an answer. So it should be no surprise that the government issued last-minute changes to how the vote would be processed and counted — hours after voting had already begun (and only a few hours before voting concluded). And of course, Erdogan declared a win, though the margin of victory was narrow.
But international election experts and the Turkish Bar Association have slammed the referendum results as faulty and even fraudulent. As the New York Times reports, "two major international observation missions have a list of concerns over irregularities during the campaign and on the day of the vote."
International monitors were not present to supervise voting and ballot-counting because many of them had been temporarily detained., and videos are surfacing that show political leaders stuffing the ballot boxes. Experts have accused the government of breaking the law with their last-minute changes to the voting rules. These changes allowed the government to count 1.5 million additional ballots that were previously considered illegitimate — more than the vote's margin of 1.38 million votes, meaning it could have swayed the results. Meanwhile, independent officials said there was also an "unprecedented" and suspicious number of missing votes, and photos show bags of "no" votes left uncounted and abandoned.
Despite all this, Erdogan claims this was "the most democratic election" of any Western country.
It's clear that these results are not trustworthy and we cannot accept them. We must demand an annulment of this vote! If we do not stand strong against Erdogan now, he will be an authoritarian ruler in no time, and then it will be even harder to turn back. And if we don't put international pressure on Turkey to annul the vote, we are failing the Turkish people.