Purged academic says ‘no’ vote in referendum will measure democracy in Turkey

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Former Marmara University Constitutional Law Professor İbrahim Kaboğlu

İbrahim Kaboğlu, a professor of constitutional law at Marmara University who was dismissed along with 330 other academics by a government decree in early February, said on Monday that the “no” votes in an upcoming referendum for a constitutional package that will switch Turkey to an executive presidency will be a measure of the democracy in the country.

Speaking during a panel discussion on the referendum in İstanbul on Monday, Kaboğlu said Turkey will be dragged into an uncertain adventure if the “yes” camp wins the referendum.

Underlining that a referendum held under emergency rule will not be a fair contest, Kaboğlu said the “no” votes will open the way for democracy in Turkey.

He also added that the switch to an executive presidency and concentrating all power in one person will wipe out the democracy that has accumulated in Turkey since the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 on a constitutional reform package that will bring an executive presidency to Turkey, with the new system concentrating power in the hands of the president.

Many people believe the constitutional amendments to be voted in the referendum will pave the way for a one-man regime under Erdoğan, who has already been criticized for being authoritarian as he has purged and jailed countless thousands of critical academics, politicians, teachers, doctors, officials, businessmen, artists and journalists.

Speaking during a rally in Elazığ province on Saturday, Erdoğan said: “Since the power of the president and prime minister will be combined in one person, there will be no conflict. Haven’t we seen a time in this country when the president threw a booklet of the constitution at the prime minister? Haven’t we experienced that? We will end this. We will concentrate all power in one person and end the era of throwing constitution booklets.”

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