Erdogan's next move: Restore capital punishment

Meanwhile in Turkey

Turkey’s aspiring tyrant, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, continues attempting to institute “reforms” in his country at a breakneck pace. (And tragically, in this case, the word breakneck might be far more literal than we would wish.) Next month the Turkish people will be voting on Erdogan’s referendum transferring vast powers from the Parliament to the presidency, allowing him to exert what essentially amounts to single-handed control of the nation, potentially for the rest of his life. But there’s another item on the agenda which he would like to see taken care of as soon as that bit of business is concluded. He wants to reinstitute the death penalty which, of course, will likely be handed out at his discretion. (DW News)

Speaking at a World War I memorial rally in the western city of Canakkale on Saturday, the Turkish president said he hoped lawmakers would respond to public “demands” for the revival of the death penalty.

“The families of the martyrs, the heroes (of the failed July 15 coup) don’t need to worry. I believe, God willing, that after the April 16 vote parliament will do the necessary concerning your demands for capital punishment,” Erdogan said.

After parliamentary approval, a bill must be signed by the head of state to become law. “When it comes to me I will approve it without hesitation,” Erdogan said.

In this phase of the takeover we are seeing some true Il Duce levels of press manipulation in Erdogan’s attempts to bring the public along with his plans. Rather than insisting that he wants the official power of life and death for himself, the president is framing the conversation as an attempt to give the people “what they want.” And since he controls the only remaining media outlets which are functioning there is little anyone can do to dilute the message.

If you’ve been following this unfolding tragedy along with us for some time now, you may be wondering why Erdogan even needs to ask the legislative branch for this power. We’ve already seen too many credible reports from the BBC and other outlets where survivors who have escaped the country are telling tales of political prisoners being tortured and, yes, very likely killed. Too many people have gone missing for this to not be seen as the current reality in Turkey. So if Erdogan is already executing those who oppose him, why the need to officially bring back capital punishment?

One theory which comes to mind is that it could potentially help cement his position as the sole figure of power. Having people rounded up in the middle of the night and “disappeared” can do a lot to instill fear in reluctant citizens, but some televised executions of those who disagree with the president would pack a serious punch. In order to get away with that however, he probably does need the legal authority to back a story of “justice being served.” To simply begin lopping off heads without taking the step of making it formerly permissible under law could inspire his opponents to begin rounding up more followers and attempt a second coup which might actually work.

Is he going to get away with this also? Not to be too depressing, but I don’t see who or what is going to stop him at this point. He succeeded in virtually every step along this path to date and absent some sort of external intervention he will likely be the “Dear Leader” of Turkey by mid summer at the latest.