The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signed into law constitutional amendments aimed at giving him sweeping new powers under an executive presidency. The reforms are deeply divisive, with supporters saying they will strengthen democracy, while critics warn of dictatorship. Turks will decide in a referendum set for April 16. Doubts over its fairness are growing among opponents of the reforms, who claim a crackdown against them already has started. Leading right-wing politician Meral Aksener recently spoke at a rally to oppose the presidential constitutional reforms. The meeting ended up being held in darkness after the electricity to the venue was mysteriously cut. Aksener said she had little doubt the blackout was deliberate, shouting to the audience, “President, what you are afraid of, me as a woman opposing you and your powerful state. We look for democracy in darkness and hopefully on April 16th we will find democracy coming out of the ballots,” she later said to reporters.
Aksener’s rally received scant coverage by the mainstream media, being confined to fringe opposition publications and TV channels broadcasting on the internet. Analysts say that’s because much of the mainstream was directly or indirectly under the influence of Erdogan, what remains increasingly avoids critical reporting.
Turkey’s Nobel Prize winner for literature, Orhan Pamuk, said he gave an interview to a newspaper, but it declined to publish his comments because he said he would cast a “no” vote on the referendum. Additionally, a leading news anchor said he was fired after he tweeted his opposition.
Full Article: Fears Grow Over Fairness of Upcoming Election in Turkey.