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İlker Gökhan Şen

Constitutional Referendums in Turkey (and Beyond)


This essay argues that constitutional and legal framework of Turkish referendum regime fail to satisfy the standards, as set by the common practice in democratic states. In fact, the legal doctrine and practice have always discerned “good practices” from the bad ones-or put differently-democratic referendums from the non-democratic ones. Having said this, in Part I, there will be a definition of the concept of “authoritarian referendum” and a historical account on the authoritarian referendums, particularly, France under Napoleon(s) and Hitler’s Germany. Part II will explore the constitutional and legal framework of referendum in Turkey and its practice from a historical perspective. Finally Part III will discuss, a contrario the authoritarian referendums, that there are emerging standards of democratic (good) referendums in comparative constitutional law and international documents. It will be further argued that Turkish law and practice of referendum do not fit these standards, and that, the referendum in Turkey is yet another example of the authoritarian referendums.

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