The Cable

A Referendum in Turkey, a Failed Missile Test in North Korea: The Weekend Behind, the Week Ahead

What you missed in the past few days, and what to watch in the days to come.

turref

Turkey fell farther into President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s grasp this Sunday, when a referendum designed to increase the powers of the presidency passed.

The opposition has said it will contest at least a third of the votes counted and official results are still to come. But Erdogan has declared victory, and with 99.8 percent of votes counted, over 51 percent were apparently in favor of the referendum.

That referendum turns Turkey from a parliamentary system into a presidential one and allows the president to hold executor powers and publish decrees. It also permits the president to be a member of a political party and makes it such that five of 13 Supreme Court justices are appointed by the president. “God willing, these results will be the beginning of a new era in our country,” Erdogan said. For many, that is exactly the concern.

Meanwhile, in the United States, U.S. President Donald Trump wondered aloud on Twitter who had paid those protesting for him to release his tax returns on Saturday, America’s tax day.

Elsewhere, in North Korea, a missile test set off early Sunday local time failed. “The president and his military team are aware of North Korea’s most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no further comment,” U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrived in South Korea just hours after the test. After Easter church services at the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, Pence said the test was “the the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world.”

Pence addressed the troops on Sunday, and, early Monday local time, headed to a base in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. He is also expected to meet with South Korea’s acting government during his ten day trip to Asia. Pence will then visit Japan, Indonesia, and Australia.

Whether Pence can cool heads as the United States and North Korea threaten one another — and mend bridges with Australia, a traditional U.S. ally, the government of which Trump argued during his first presidential phone call with that country — will be seen in the week ahead.

Photo credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering ambassadorial and diplomatic affairs in Washington. @emilyctamkin

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