Turks vote in historic referendum

Turks vote in historic referendum

On April 16, the electorate in Turkey will be asked to vote Yes or No to an 18-article reform bill, which would also change the current parliamentary system to a presidential one.

He said he tries to counter that resignation by saying that the government won't be able to steal the vote if observers and the public keep a close watch on the ballot boxes.

"This constitutional change will bring stability and trust that is needed for our county's development, growth and stability", Erdogan told supporters at the rally.

Bahceli voiced concern on Thursday night over remarks by an advisor to the president, who reportedly said a "state" system could be possible for Turkey.

Negative sentiment against the European Union is high in Turkey after Germany and the Netherlands blocked Turkish ministers last month from campaigning inside their borders to seek the votes of millions of Turks living there.

The nadir of this process has been marked by the breathtakingly broad crackdown on dissent that followed the July 15 coup attempt a year ago.

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Campaigning for Turkey's crucial referendum on whether to expand presidential powers entered its final stretch Saturday, with supporters of both "yes" and "no" campaigns addressing flag-waving supporters in Turkey's two main cities of Istanbul and Ankara.

Turkish citizens living overseas have already voted.

Assuming the referendum passes, most of the changes it contains won't take effect until the next set of elections, due in 2019.

But critics argue that Erdogan, who has been at the helm of Turkish government as prime minister or president since 2003, will simply cement his hold on power with even fewer checks and balances if the "yes" side wins. The Trump administration, which has allied with the PKK's Syrian affiliate in the battle against Islamic State extremists in Syria, has delayed its decision on a military plan to capture Raqqa, the self-declared Islamic State capital, until after the referendum.

However, the president will appoint a majority of the constitutional court's members, raising doubts about the future judiciary's impartiality.

The "Yes" campaign also hit a last-minute hitch when the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the AKP's partner in promoting the changes, reacted angrily to comments by a presidential adviser suggesting a federal system could be imposed in Turkey.

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Iraqi Security Forces are "are advancing very carefully and cautiously in order to protect lives of civilian populations", he said on Thursday.

The changes would mean that Erdogan could theoretically remain president through 2029, reports US News & World Report. Until 2014, presidents were chosen by parliament.

Another complicating factor is the atmosphere of intimation under which the vote is taking place, in which government rhetoric has branded No voters terrorist supporters and traitors to the nation. He also appealed to voters of other parties to approve the changes so that "Turkey can leap into the future".

The ruling AK party say Turkey's parliamentary system hasn't worked.

The opposition has complained about an unfair campaign process, with Erdogan and the "yes" propaganda dominating air waves and billboards using state resources. One of the government's emergency decrees abolished sanctions against media organisations producing biased coverage in the lead up to the election, to the obvious benefit of the government, which now indirectly controls the bulk of Turkey's media.

After a slew of attacks over the a year ago blamed on Kurdish militants and jihadists, security is set to be a major issue on polling day.

No plans for a federal Turkey: President Erdogan
Erdogan cited Germany's refusal to hand over Turkish citizens suspected of terrorism as a reason behind his refusal. Campaigning took place under a state of emergency imposed following last summer's failed military coup attempt.

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