‘This measure is in no way against democracy, the law and freedoms’. These were the words of President Erdoğan on the 20th July as he announced the commencement of a three-month state of emergency across Turkey, approved by the Turkish Parliament by a vote of 356 to 11. This comes less than a week after the attempted coup by members of the Turkish armed forces, which left approximately 240 dead and over 1,500 injured. This state of emergency means that Erdoğan and his Cabinet will now be able to bypass Cabinet and will not be challenged by the constitutional court.

It is also possible that they will impose restrictions on freedom of assembly and censorship, as well as having much broader powers of arrest throughout the country. However, significant concern has been voiced regarding its implementation.

'Concern' of the EU

Both the EU’s High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn are ‘concerned’ about Erdoğan’s actions, as they urge him to continue to uphold democracy, the rule of law and basic rights and freedoms. Indeed, this is what the President claims the state of emergency is for, but his increasingly authoritarian behaviour must be called into question when he claims that the best way to protect basic rights is to suspend the European Convention on Human Rights.

He also stated in his speech that this would not lead to disruption to the everyday lives of the Turkish people, despite the state of emergency giving authorities the power to implement curfews and ban certain publications and websites, including WikiLeaks, who recently released 300,000 emails from Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

A 'crackdown of exceptional proportions'

Erdoğan has claimed that it is an attempt to root out the ‘virus’ behind the coup, and that it will allow more efficient steps to be taken to remove threats to Turkish democracy and freedom, which he attributes to ‘Hizmet’, the movement led by Fethullah Gulen, whom is blamed for inciting the coup.

However, the extent of the purges which have already taken place, including the sacking of almost 9,000 police officers, suggests that plans for such an actions were already in place, and thus the coup acted only as a catalyst for Erdoğan’s increasingly executive presidential rule. The Republican People’s Party (CHP), the main opposition party in Turkey, has stated that although there are legal grounds for a state of emergency to be declared, the current situation in Turkey makes it politically unviable. Further to this, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has called it out as a means to eliminate all of Erdoğan’s remaining opposition. As Amnesty International call this a ‘crackdown of exceptional proportions’, all we can do now is watch and see how this state of emergency is used by the President and ultimately how authoritarian Erdoğan will become.