Turkey’s No campaign is not going to take its defeat lying down

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Yesterday was the day Turkey shed away the few remaining checks and balances that made it a recognisably Western parliamentary democracy.

By November 2019, the post of prime minister will be abolished and its responsibilities transferred to the president. The holder will have vast powers: to select his party’s MPs, to appoint senior judges, and to rule by decree.

It will be much harder to keep that single office in check. Previously, MPs in parliament could vote to come together to investigate and topple any minister they suspected of wrongdoing. The process took no longer than 18 days.

That same process will take longer for the president under the new system – up to 10 months – and the number of MPs who need to vote for it has increased dramatically.

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan is about to make himself a virtual dictator in Turkey

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As you read this, a rapid and turbulent revolution is underway in Turkey. The country’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party is pushing proposals through parliament that would radically alter the system of government.

By abolishing Turkey’s long-established system of collective cabinet government, the AK Party says it will stabilise the country and streamline decision-making. But the proposed law will pool power in the hands of the president and dramatically reduce the top job’s accountability to parliament. In effect, it codifies a system of one-man rule for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

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UK party slammed over ‘Islamophobic’ TV ad

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Political broadcast by Eurosceptic UKIP party provokes fury from viewers, MPs and members of Britain’s Turkish community

LONDON — Scenes showing the Turkish flag, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and boats buzzing across the Bosporus were transmitted to millions of British television viewers on Wednesday night.

But it was not the latest advertising spot by Turkey’s tourist board. It was a warning against Turkish membership of the European Union – coming in the form of a propaganda broadcast by the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), a right-wing group that took nearly four million votes in last year’s parliamentary election.

The broadcast contained extensive footage of mosques and women wearing headscarves before urging viewers to vote against Britain’s continued membership of the E.U. in the country’s forthcoming referendum.

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Tourism sows divisions in fiercely communist Cuba

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Booming private sector, fueled by foreign visitors, threatens to upset island’s prized system of social equality

VINALES, CUBA — “This one is ready,” Lucilo said, turning the rooster upside down in his hands to inspect its plucked, featherless bottom. “He’s going to be a good fighter.”

The bird squirmed, unable to escape his grasp. It was weeks away from being thrown into the arena as gambling fodder in a cockfight.

While the farmer returned it to its small cage, his sleeve pulled back to reveal a nasty gash on his arm. Was that the work of one of his angry birds?

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Rochester by-election: Voters drift from main UK parties

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By Michael Daventry

LONDON

British Prime Minister David Cameron must rue the day in 2006 when, as the newish leader of his Conservative Party, he described members of the U.K. Independence Party as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly”.

That same party, commonly referred to as Ukip, comfortably defeated the Conservatives on Thursday to win a parliamentary seat in a special election in Rochester and Strood, a suburban district around 60 kilometers (38 miles) southeast of London.

The right-wing party favors Britain’s immediate withdrawal from the European Union and placing much stricter curbs on migration to the country.

What makes the defeat embarrassing for the British premier is that the winning candidate, Mark Reckless, was the second person in as many months to defect from Cameron’s party and successfully defend the seat for Ukip.

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Turkey’s next leader? Same man, same double standards

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jc-2aThis year will be an excellent one for Turkey’s ties with Israel. The two countries are projected to trade a record $6bn (£3.6bn) in goods and services. A quarter of a million Israelis will visit Turkey, the highest number in five years. And this month, 13 daily Istanbul-Tel Aviv flights will facilitate this burgeoning traffic of business and tourism.

It is a remarkably healthy relationship for two countries that have barely spoken to each other in four years. Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Tel Aviv and expelled Israel’s own envoy following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which nine people died in an IDF raid on a flotilla of ships bound for blockaded Gaza. Despite an Israeli apology, diplomatic ties have not been restored.

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Ambassador Çeviköz: No UK vendetta against Turkey

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Turkey’s outgoing ambassador to London has insisted Britain’s press has shown no sign of vendetta against his country.

Ünal Çeviköz said his four-year posting in London represented a peak in UK-Turkey relations, seeing three presidential visits, two from the prime minister and “countless” trips here by the foreign minister.

In a wide-ranging farewell interview with Londra Gazete, conducted on the day the Alevi community demonstrated outside the embassy building, Mr Çeviköz defended their right to peaceful protest and said he did not feel any pressure from British officials over last year’s Gezi Park incidents.

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Turkey’s record blemished by its leaders

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After 301 people were confirmed dead in Turkey’s single worst mining disaster last month, critics blamed Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Turkish prime minister’s business-friendly government had privatised the mine in Soma and its inspectors had given a clean bill of health just weeks before disaster struck.

Mr Erdoğan’s supporters tried to shift the blame elsewhere. Their principal target was the mine’s owning company and its director Alp Gürkan. Among the many personal attacks on Mr Gürkan in the pro-government press, one headline was distinctive: “That boss’s son-in-law is a Jew”. For the pious daily YeniAkit, a board member who changed his name from Mario Asafrana to the more Turkish-sounding “Mahir”was sufficient for a front page splash.

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Like a prisoner

Didem Cömertoğlu, who has asked Londra to disguise her identity

An Ankara agreement applicant says she has not seen her passport for six months and feels like a prisoner

AN ACCOMPLISHED Turkish musician whose passport has been held by the Home Office for almost half a year has said she feels like a prisoner in Britain.

Didem Cömertoğlu, who is legally allowed to work as a piano teacher, has not been able to open a bank account, apply for jobs or even board a plane for six months. She sent in her passport when she applied to extend her work permit in January, but the UK Border Agency, which is handling her application, will not even confirm they have it.

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