The approval of sweeping changes to Turkey’s political system last Sunday threatens Turkey’s nearly a century and half long parliamentarian legacy, according to Ankara native Evren Celik Wiltse, an assistant professor of political science at South Dakota State University. “Almost all high-ranking bureaucrats are directly appointed by the president. More importantly, the president directly or indirectly determines over 70 percent of the judiciary.”

In this referendum, one of the most important mechanisms to ensure the integrity of paper ballots was breached, explained Wiltse. Each ballot envelope must be stamped once by the Supreme Election Council and once, on the site, in front of to 5 to 7 person committee that executes the voting process. However, as the votes were being tallied, the Supreme Election Council decided to accept anywhere from 1 million to 2.5 million envelopes containing only one stamp—the referendum passed by 1.4 million votes.

“A systemic change of such proportions cannot rest upon fraudulent elections,” Wiltse said. For the integrity of such a crucial referendum, the least the SEC can do is, declare the magnitude of compromised ballots and schedule a re-election in those provinces

She can be reached for comment at 605-688-4311 or [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter at @EvrenWiltse. Wiltse spends several months each summer in Turkey.

She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey, and her doctorate degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the 2015-16 Daschle Research Fellow at SDSU, working on the NAFTA at Twenty project. Her latest book, “Democratic Reform and Consolidation: the cases of Mexico and Turkey,” was released in 2015 by Colchester: ECPR Press.

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