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Turkish universities latest domino in Erdogan's path

Under the state of emergency, the president of Turkey now has the power to appoint the heads of all state-run as well as private universities.
Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against a purge of thousands of education staff since an attempted coup in July, in front of the main campus of Istanbul University at Beyazit square in Istanbul, Turkey, November 3, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal - RTX2RP4T

When the Turkish government called for a state of emergency six days after the failed coup attempt of July 15, many critics of the government, including this journalist, supported the move, given that the nation had just confronted a lethal threat. As the state of emergency unfolded, however, some of these initial supporters, again including this one, began to change their minds primarily for two reasons.

First, the crackdown against suspected coup plotters turned into a witch hunt, which sunk to the level of raiding one of the country's few remaining critical newspapers. Second, with a plenitude of executive orders and the rendering of the Turkish parliament as practically ineffective, the government hastened its ambition of building a political system based on an excessive concentration of power. A perfect example of the latter is Executive Order 676, issued Oct. 30. Among other things, it gives the Turkish president the power to appoint all rectors, the top executives of universities. In short, all Turkish universities — even the private ones — have thus been brought under the full control of the president.

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