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April 16 will be the day the Turkish Republic dies

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of local administrators in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Turkey's Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag says the government will work on a regulation that would allow authorities to strip Turks deemed to be supporting terrorism of their Turkish citizenship. Bozdag's comments on Wednesday came a day after Erdogan called for such a measure to strengthen Turkey's fight against terrorism.(Yasin Bulbul/Presidential Press Service, Pool via AP)

The modern Turkish Republic was founded on 23 October 1923.

It was founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a man who wanted to break fully from the Ottoman past and forge a new nation-state based on the principles of secularism, modernity, and education that would include a Latin script for the Turkish language.

Perhaps most interestingly, he was also a man who forged a good relationship with Vladimir Lenin of the Soviet Union after centuries of war between Ottoman Turkey and Tsarist Russia.

The 16th of April, 2017 will likely be remembered as the day that the Republic of Turkey is transformed into something barely recognisable to followers of 20th century Turkey. That is the day that President Erdogan will hold his referendum which will effectively transform the once vibrant Turkish Parliament into little more than a debating forum with no real power.

If the referendum passes, it will make Erdogan a supremely powerful executive with the power to propose and enact his own laws, form his own cabinet at will, declare states of emergency at will, and call new elections at will. RT further reports that Erdogan will likely have the ability to remain in power until 2029, by which time he would be 74 years of age.

The situation for Turkey is dire. The Kemalist, secular opposition party CHP stands to be decimated. After years of Erdogan purging Turkey’s high courts and the military – traditional guardians of the secular constitutional order – he is now about to finalise his purge of Turkey’s political life.

This of course happens at a time when Turkey is facing internal threats from followers of Islamist leader Fethullah Gülen, other home grown Islamists, foreign terrorists, student protesters and Kurdish separatists.

To give one an idea of how serious this is, imagine if Vladimir Putin deciding to turn the State Duma into nothing but a debating body, which could not vote on or propose meaningful legislation. Imagine if Putin made himself a sole executive with the sweeping powers Erdogan proposes for himself?

One could hear the outcry from the Western media ringing more sharply than a nuclear blast. But as a NATO member and on-again/off-again guardian of Europe’s volatile eastern Mediterranean border, Erdogan generally escapes any scrutiny from the Western media, even as he is frightening, intimidating and silencing those Turks who share what used to be called ‘European values’.

That being said, Erdogan will likely win the referendum one way or another. Through a combination of his militant support base, voter intimidation tactics, and voter fraud when and where necessary, the result is something of a foregone conclusion.

Russia has restored safety, prosperity and dignity to her people under President Putin. Under President Putin, Russia has created the first functional democracy in the history of the Russian state. By contrast Erdogan has taken a secular, functional democracy and turned it into a tyrannical autocracy with both Ottoman and neo-Islamist overtones.

One would be forgiven for thinking the opposite if western media was one’s only source of information.

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