There are just two days to go until Turkey goes to the polls in a referendum that could give sweeping new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He wants to replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with an executive presidency.
Erdogan’s critics fear a further drift into authoritarianism under a leader they regard as bent on eroding modern Turkey’s democracy and secular foundations.
The most important argument against authoritarianism politics is Mr Erdogan himself. Since the failed coup, he has been governing under a state of emergency that demonstrates how cruelly power can be abused. Roughly 50,000 people have been arrested; 100,000 more have been sacked. Only a fraction of them were involved in the coup. Anyone Mr Erdogan sees as a threat is vulnerable: ordinary folk who went to a Gulenist school or saved with a Gulenist bank; academics, journalists and politicians who betray any sympathy for the Kurdish cause; anybody, including children, who mocks the president on social media.
Whatever the result on April 16th, Mr Erdogan will remain in charge, free to use—and abuse—his emergency powers.