Across the Pond, Part II

On April 16, the people of Turkey went to the polls for a referendum. The matter under consideration was a broad set of amendments to the country’s constitution. Most notable among other things, the amendments would abolish the office of the Prime Minister and effectively replace Turkey’s parliamentarian government with a presidential system.

Most every presidential system of government needs a strong executive to function effectively, and the proposed amendments did not claim otherwise. In the process of doing away with the government’s Prime Minister, the amendments would endow the president, a largely ceremonial post with little hard power in the previous system, with the powers of chief executive and head of state. And the actual powers that come with these title bumps are far from trivial – new authority to appoint government ministers, select judges, enact laws by decree, declare states of emergency, and dismiss parliament.

Parliament, which would serve at the pleasure of the president, would also be stripped of its authority to scrutinize ministers as part of their appointment proceedings or conduct thorough investigations of the government. It would retain the ability to impeach the president, however, since the president could dismiss parliament at any time it remains to be seen if that capability has any tangible force behind it.

Though a unique issue in a unique country, like Brexit and the Trump victory, the referendum in Turkey won by a tight margin at the polls: 51.4 to 48.59.

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Yes, This One Matters

Pope

Ever since his election in March of 2013, Pope Francis has made big headlines all over the world. In both substance and form, he has demonstrated a marked shift from the personalities and policies of the past two popes – John Paul II and Benedict XVI. For conservatives this has been concerning, for liberals, thrilling.

Regardless of one’s political, religious, and general cultural opinions, it is essential to acknowledge that the Holy Catholic Church is an ingenious institution. The most important criterium for judging the effectiveness of an institution are 1) how long it has lasted, and 2) the loudness of its voice in the present. On both fronts, the Church gets an A-plus.

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