Campaigning for Turkey referendum hits final stretch

Campaigning for Turkey referendum hits final stretch

Campaigning for Turkey referendum hits final stretch

The full weight of the state has seemingly been thrown behind the "yes" camp, while opponents say they have faced 143 attacks over the course of the campaign. Turkey is heading to a contentious April 16 referendum on constitutional reforms to expand Pres.

A man walks and another sits on a bench at Taksim square ahead of the upcoming referendum, at Taksim square in Istanbul, Friday, April 14, 2017. Turkey is heading to a con.

Erdogan had said Turkey was angered by the way Europeans banned Turkish officials over the past months from promoting the referendum in European cities, adding that Turkey would certainly reciprocate. Many saw that as a further move against the military, which was long considered the guardian of Turkish "secularism", something Erdogan opposed. In April 2007, after the military intervened through an internet memorandum meant to influence Turkish politics ahead of yet another presidential election, an amendment was voted in by the Turkish public in favor of electing the president through popular vote instead of through Parliament.

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The ballot paper is simply divided into a "yes" and a "no" section. The ruler posed a question in such a way that the people couldn't say "No". In eastern Turkey and Black Sea region, the voting will start at 7:00 am and end at 4 pm. They will either say yes to constitutional amendments that would give Erdogan sweeping new powers or no - an act of defiance that would nominally preserve Turkey's battered democracy. The prime minister's office would be abolished. In areas where parliament has not passed any laws the president would have the right to issue decrees. Until recently, the president was an appointed position serving as head of state, not head of government - similar to the queen of England. Under the current Constitution, presidents are required to severe ties with their parties. Under the proposed changes, Erdogan could have his term limit effectively reset and stay in power through 2029.

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. The parliament would not be able to bring down a government or a minister in a vote of no confidence.

Presidential and legislative elections would be held at the same time.

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The constitutional changes have been discussed since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was voted president in August 2014.

Other changes include the minimum age of parliamentary candidates reduced to 18 and the number of deputies increased to 600. Erdogan could formally rejoin the party he co-founded, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The opposition has complained of a lopsided campaign, with Erdogan using the full resources of the state and the governing party to dominate the airwaves and blanket the country with pro-"yes" campaign posters. Turkey remains under a state of emergency declared last July, following a failed coup that left almost 300 people dead.

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The once-vibrant media have seen their freedoms severely curtailed, with many of journalists jailed. Two others, including one of Tajik origin, had travelled to "conflict zones" and carried out operations for the jihadist group.

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