Apr 25 2017

TURKEY – IT’S NOT OVER YET

This article by Even Uslu, a Turkish communist, exposes the fraud  involved in Recep Erdogan’s recent referendum designed to concentrate power in the Turkish Presidency.

TURKEY – IT’S NOT OVER YET

THE AKP GOVERNMENT IS IN CRISIS FOLLOWING THE RIGGED REFERENDUM 

Celebrating amid the fraud

The shambles that followed the April 16 referendum to amend the constitution confirmed the widely held expectations of the left: president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to gain sufficient support for the amendments giving the president huge powers, and have resorted to wide-scale voting fraud.

Final opinion polls before voting had ‘no’ on 55% with an error of plus or minus 3%. But the declared results had ‘yes’ on 51%, with a majority of 1,300,000 votes out of more than 48 million. However, it is estimated that the number of ‘yes’ votes said to be stuffed irregularly into the ballot boxes amounted to 2,500,000.

The body chosen to provide the result with a thin veil of legitimacy was the Supreme Electoral Council, which oversees all electoral procedures. It consists of seven principal and four alternate judges elected from among members of Supreme Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Administrative Law. Each ballot box was supposed to be overseen by nominees from four political parties working under a “man of good repute”.

The votes are tallied after the voting has closed in the presence of representatives of the political parties, and both valid and invalid votes are recorded. Nowadays, almost all party representatives take a photo of these returns with their mobile phones and send it to their party headquarters, where special teams tally the returned votes and follow up the procedures to ensure that the correct results are entered into the central computers.

This elaborate and cumbersome system is a nightmare in general elections, where many parties and candidates are on the ballot. Many aspects of tallying, returns and computer results are disputed and it sometimes takes weeks or even months to settle all of them. But it was claimed the system would work much more efficiently in a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ referendum.

 

Fraud gates opened

However, with political power concentrated in the hands of the few, and with the blissful ignorance – or cooperation – of the state, the system is open to all kinds of abuse. Electoral fraud has always been a problem, but since the 1946 general election, widespread electoral fraud has not been attempted. In that year, despite huge support the opposition was brutally suppressed and allocated only a handful of seats in parliament. There was no judicial oversight and, while voting was open, counting was done in secret.

And now Erdogan, armed with emergency powers, has overseen a similar scenario. This time, however, judicial oversight was turned into a mockery by the eight justices appointed by the high courts in the aftermath of the botched military intervention of July 15 2016. Under the pretext of getting rid of secret members of the Islamist Gülen movement said to be entrenched in state institutions, oversight was severely hampered.

Today the independence and impartiality of the judiciary is practically non-existent in Turkey, and this is reflected in the Supreme Electoral Council, which made highly controversial decisions on the hoof. Despite the presence of a clear rule to the contrary in the electoral law, the council decided during counting that unstamped ballot papers were to be deemed valid. There was no need to count them and record them separately. This meant that virtually anything stuffed into the ballot box was deemed a valid vote and in fact more than 1,200 ballot boxes recorded only ‘yes’ votes without a single exception. Around 7,000 ballot boxes contained votes which equalled or even exceeded the number of registered voters and more than 60% of them recorded a ‘yes’.

While the electoral roll is supposed to be signed by the person casting their vote, in many instances it carried an identical signature for all voters! In some centres unstamped ballot papers were stamped retrospectively during counting and objections from the electoral observers were ignored.

As you might expect, such a massive fraud has created a huge backlash. Amid the hullaballoo it became apparent that the Supreme Electoral Council had used the correct procedures for ballots cast abroad, and declared many unstamped ballots to be invalid in countries where the ‘no’ vote was high. These shameless double standards also resulted in the gross violation of electoral law in Kurdistan. The social media is full of photos and videos depicting armed men – mostly the infamous ‘village protectors’ – brandishing their weapons outside balloting centres and claiming wipe-out ‘yes’ votes from among ‘their own’ electoral districts.

There are also many instances of “erroneous data entry” in regard to the inputting of the returns into the central computer system. Sometimes the figures for ‘no’ and ‘yes’ votes were transposed!

 

Pots and pans in unison

The main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP) stated that it did not accept the results as valid, and that the extent of the fraud and subsequent cover-up was so widespread that recounting was virtually ruled out. CHP representatives lodged objections at more than 600 balloting centres and the party demanded that the results be declared null and void. Thousands of citizens have been attempting to lodge individual objections and there have been long queues outside provincial electoral council offices.

In several cities there have been large protest marches – welcomed by the banging of pots and pans from balconies or windows as they passed. This new movement could grow rapidly, provided the different sections of the opposition can act unitedly. During the campaign the left supported the slogan, “No”, and now the new slogan on the streets is “No – it’s not over yet!”

The final ‘verified’ outcome of the referendum will be declared in two to three weeks, but it will not be easy to get the population to accept it. Provided the parliamentary opposition is prepared to go all the way, there are quite important avenues open to it to overturn the result, but if it fails to do so the popular opposition will certainly attempt to force the state to rescind the referendum. The coming days will see a combination of legal battles and mass protests.

 

New possibilities

Meanwhile, more than 290 Kurdish prisoners are on hunger strike. The initial group has now reached its 60th day, which means that Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is likely to set in, leaving permanent damage to the nervous system. However, the authorities are refusing to allow them vitamin B supplements.

In addition, 13 Kurdish MPs, together with dozens of writers, authors and journalists, are still in detention. And virtually the first thing the government did after the referendum was to propose a three-month extension of its brutal emergency rule – the docile parliament rubber-stamped it before going into recess.

But the AKP government is shell-shocked. Despite the coalition formed with the racist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), it is apparent that it cannot win a democratic election. So in the run-up to the 2019 mandatory election it will try to soldier on, looking for opportunities to win back popular support.

The AKP’s nationalist-Islamist rhetoric has forced it into a corner – it can no longer hope for support from the European Union. The threat to bring back the death penalty was intended to draw in support from the most backward masses, but it has also resulted in further isolation in the international arena. The only friends Erdogan still has are in the reactionary regimes of the Gulf.

This situation opens up new possibilities for the popular opposition in Turkey. Will we be able to use it to advance our cause, or will it end in despair? Only time – and struggle – will tell.

__________

This article was first posted at:- http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1151/no-its-not-over-yet/

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Apr 07 2017

THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND

Steve Freeman of the Republican Socialist Alliance and the Left Unity Party draws on the revolutionary democratic political tradition in England, linking the Levellers, the Chartists and the Suffragettes. He outlines its strengths compared with the social democratic and economist political tradition of Labour and most of the British Left sects. Steve argues that Socialists should be championing the revolutionary democratic tradition today.

THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND

“Westminster? It’s old, defunct, a waste of time. I hate the place” – Mhairi Black MP *

Westminster does not look or work any better from the inside or the outside. In May 1991 Tony Benn MP proposed fundamental reform. He introduced the Commonwealth of Britain Bill in the House of Commons, intended to make Britain a federal republic. The current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP seconded the Bill. The Bill’s first hurdle on the parliamentary road to a republic was to get permission from the Queen to submit it to the Commons. Then there has to be majorities in the Commons, Lords and then finally with the royal assent the Bill becomes law.
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Apr 06 2017

RADICAL INDEPENDENCE CAMPAIGN STATEMENT – DEFEND DEMOCRACY

The Radical Independence Campaign has produced this new statement following Theresa May’s rejection of the right of the the Holyrood Parliament to hold a second Scottish independence referendum. 

 

DEFEND DEMOCRACY

 

The election of Trump, the chaotic handling of Brexit by an unelected Tory leader, and the ongoing crisis of the global economy, we believe our message is needed more than ever.

RIC will argue for a People’s Independence. The 99% have the most to lose from ongoing Tory rule from Westminster. Their votes will decide the referendum, and RIC will provide a platform to amplify their voices. We will be discussing new ideas for the coming campaign, rather than simply repeating our work from the last referendum. The situation has changed dramatically since 2014 – that means our tactics and approach must also change.
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Mar 29 2017

Statement of the Political Bureau of the Iraqi Communist Party

With the western press focussed on the joint Iraqi, Kurdish and US attempt to retake Mosul from Daesh, there has been much less coverage about other events happening in Iraq. With mounting civilian casualties in Mosul, and the sectarian nature of the current Iraqi government, any hopes for a post-Daesh peaceful and just political order in Iraq seem very unlikely. We are publishing this statement from the Political Bureau of the Iraqi Communist Party addressing the situation in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, when the government faced peaceful protestors on February 11th demanding change.

 

Statement of the Political Bureau of the Iraqi Communist Party

We condemn violence against demonstrators

and demand those responsible be brought to account

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Dec 08 2016

DEBATES AND DISCUSSIONS ON THE EMANCIPATION & LIBERATION BLOG ABOUT THE EU AND MIGRATION

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Our Emancipation & Liberation blog has posted articles about the EU and Migration since it was set up. The earlier postings covered  the Republican Communist Network’s involvement, when it was a platform in the Scottish Socialist Party. The first debate was in 2002 over whether the SSP should back joining the euro in the event of a referendum over the issue. The majority in the SSP was anti-euro, although there was a small pro-euro minority. The RCN formed another minority, which was for a campaign of active abstention.
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Dec 03 2016

WHICH WAY NOW – ‘BREXIT’ OR ‘EX-BRIT’?

Allan Armstrong, of the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party, draws some political conclusions from the online discussion (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/11/20/from-farages-brexit-to-trumps-brexit-plus-plus-plus-and-on-to-madame-frexit/)  of the political situation in the UK in the aftermath of the Trump vote. 

 _________

 

WHICH WAY NOW – ‘BREXIT’ OR ‘EX-BRIT’? 

a) Brexit and the change in British ruling class thinking

Since the Brexit vote, the Tories, under Theresa May’s leadership, have been moving away from the recently shared politics of the majority of the British ruling class and mainstream British political parties. A central feature of these politics was based upon the globalised neo-liberal economics pushed by Margaret Thatcher, in the interests of a turbo-charged City of London. The City had really taken off after Nigel Lawson’s ‘Big Bang’ deregulation in 1983. Following New Labour’s 1996 election victory, they adopted the same unquestioning pro-City path. This was shown when Chancellor Gordon Brown abolished the few remaining government controls over the City’s operations. Under Tony Blair, Butskellism gave way to Blatcherism.
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Nov 20 2016

FROM FARAGE’S BREXIT, TO TRUMP’S “BREXIT PLUS, PLUS, PLUS”, AND ON TO ‘MADAME FREXIT’?


WHAT DOES TRUMP’S VICTORY SIGNIFY?

– ALLAN ARMSTRONG IN CONVERSATION WITH

ALAN BISSETT, BRIAN HIGGINS, PAUL STEWART AND

JOHN TUMMON

(see short biogs at end)

 

 1. ALLAN ARMSTRONG – 9.11.16

“An even greater leap into fantasy land is the belief that Brexit will provide a progressive example to other member states wanting to break away from the EU…. The first and unfortunately well-known non-UK person to celebrate Brexit was none other than the Right populist US Presidential hopeful, Donald Trump. With typical crassness he chose his new golf course at Turnberry in Scotland to declare his solidarity with Brexit… Another presidential hopeful, Marine Le Pen, of the French Far Right National Front, was the first significant European politician to proclaim her solidarity with Brexit.
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Oct 20 2016

REPORT OF MEETING TO SET UP THE CAMPAIGN FOR A EUROPEAN REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY

REPORT OF MEETING TO SET UP

THE CAMPAIGN FOR A EUROPEAN REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY

OUT OF THE BLUE CENTRE, DALMENY STREET, LEITH, EDINBURGH,

15th OCTOBER 2015

Out of the Blue Centre, Dalmeny Street, Leith

Out of the Blue Centre, Dalmeny Street, Leith

 

12 people attended the meeting, called by the RSA (Scotland), to set up the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party. 12 people gave their apologies.

Those present also belong as individuals to a number of organisations including Assemblies for Democracy, Independent Workers Union – Ireland, Left Unity Party, Radical Independence Campaign, Republican Communist Network, RISE, Scottish Socialist Party, World to Win.
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Oct 18 2016

THE REALITY OF THE EUROPEAN DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION

Allan Armstrong has prepared the following paper for the meeting to be  held on October 15th, in Edinburgh, to set up a Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party. This meeting is being organised to implement the decision of the RSA meeting held in Wakefield on June 23rd (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/08/05/report-of-the-republican-socialist-alliance-meeting-in-wakefield-23rd-july/)

 

THE REALITY OF THE EUROPEAN DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION

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Many, particularly amongst the British Left, seem to have forgotten that before the First World War, European Socialists had seen the creation of a United States of Europe as their goal (1). They have developed their current perspective in the context of the past defeats of this prospect.
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Jul 04 2016

JUNE 24th – THE FUKers’ BLACK FRIDAY OR RED FRIDAY FOR A EUROPEAN DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION?

Allan Armstrong, who first became politically active in 1968, gives his political assessment of the political situation in the aftermath of the June 23d EU referendum.  Allan is on the Editorial Board of Emancipation & Liberation,  a supporter of the Republican Socialist Alliance, the Radical Independence Campaign and, in the ‘Spirit of 68’, a dissident member of the SSP and RISE.

The International Revolutionary Wave from 1968-75, encompassing the world from Vietnam to Paris, was contained. However, a group of socialists helped to put some new life into the possibility of a social order beyond the discredited models of Social Democracy and official Communism. Sadly today, we have one of 1968’s leading proponents, Tariq Ali, in his role as a prominent Lexiter, reacting to the situation created by the EU referendum more in the manner of the French CP in 1968, diverting a potential European Democratic Revolution on to the path of national reformism. Today this can only reinforce the Right across Europe.  However, others of Allan’s generation, including Bernadette Devlin/McAliskey, have seen a very different potential in the current situation.

It is to be hoped that the short-lived International Revolutionary Wave of 2011, encompassing the ‘Arab Spring’ and the Indignados of Greece and Spain, will prove to be a 1905 International Revolutionary Wave-style prelude to a new revolutionary wave. For the moment the 2011 wave has ebbed back to the communities of resistance in Palestine and Kobane, and to the electoralism of Syriza and Podemos.  

Allan’s contribution is based on a talk he gave at the Edinburgh RISE circle on June 28th and has been extended, updated and written in the form of an appeal from a member of the 1968 generation to those of the new young 2011 generation. 

(* FUKers are supporters of a ‘Free UK’. They stretch from the Fascist and Loyalist Far Right, through the Right populist UKIP to the reactionary Right Tories.)

AFTER JUNE 24th – THE FUKers’* BLACK FRIDAY or RED FRIDAY FOR A EUROPE’S DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION

Migrant Solidarity Network march in Edinburgh oransised after Brexit vote on June 24th

The 500 strong Migrant Solidarity Network march in Edinburgh on June 24th  the same day as the Brexit vote  24th

 

The significance of Friday June 24th
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