GOP chairman warns of 'creeping authoritarianism' in Turkey

GOP chairman warns of 'creeping authoritarianism' in Turkey
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A GOP chairman said Tuesday he is troubled by Turkey’s "creeping authoritarianism" after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared victory this week in expanding his powers.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) argued that Sunday’s referendum vote in Turkey should be an international cause for concern.

“Turkey’s creeping authoritarianism continues,” Royce said in a statement. “All who value democracy, pluralism and Turkey’s key role in the region should be concerned about the elimination of important checks and balances in the Turkish system.”

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Royce added that he was especially troubled by “initial reports of irregularities and an ‘unlevel playing field’ from independent election observers.”

The vote — contested by opposition parties — gives Erdoğan broader powers to appoint ministers and top judges, as well as takes away the position of prime minister, transferring executive power to the president.

The GOP chairman pledged to “review the full body of facts when they are released in the days ahead.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (M.D.) also expressed concern for the "vital NATO ally" and President Trump's quickness to endorse the results.

Trump called Erdoğan after Sunday's vote to "congratulate him on his recent referendum victory and to discuss the United States’ action in response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons" earlier this month, according to the White House.

"I am deeply concerned that the close and disputed constitutional referendum this weekend will weaken democracy in Turkey and lead to a further weakening of the Turkish people's right to a free press, free expression of dissenting views, and freedom to hold their elected leaders accountable," Hoyer said in a statement Tuesday.

"[Trump's] call to President Erdogan seemed premature and may possibly have undermined the work of international election monitors," he said.

Hoyer urged Erdogan "to show appropriate restraint in the exercise of his new powers in order to reassure the Turkish people and the world of his commitment to real democracy and secular government" if the referendum has indeed passed.

Updated: 3:45 p.m.