Campaigning for Turkey referendum hits final stretch

Western countries have criticised that tough response, and relations with the EU - which Turkey has been negotiating to join for a decade - hit a low during the campaign when Erdogan accused European leaders of acting like Nazis for banning referendum rallies in their countries on security grounds.

Turkey is heading to an April 16 contentious referendum on constitutional refo. A supporter of the "YES" vote waves a placard as they campaign ahead of the Sunday referendum, in Istanbul, Friday, April 14, 2017.

Appearing at a rally in Istanbul's Tuzla district on Saturday, he urged voters to go to the polls to ensure he got the result he wanted. Turkey is heading to a con.

Much like the vast mosque he has commissioned atop one of Istanbul's highest hills, President Tayyip Erdogan's supporters hope a referendum on Sunday will be a crowning achievement in his drive to reshape Turkey. Both the CHP and the HDP previously agreed in talks with Erdogan on the need for constitutional changes to the Turkish state, in which HDP proposed a presidential and federalist system.

The referendum will take place under a state of emergency that has been in place since last summer's failed coup, which has seen some 47,000 arrested in the biggest crackdown in Turkey's history.

More than one million Turkish immigrants live in Germany and the Netherlands, and have been eligible to submit postal votes. In eastern Turkey and Black Sea region, the voting will start at 7:00 am and end at 4 pm. That followed Erdogan issuing a legal decree under emergency powers that have been in force since July's coup, abolishing the legal requirement for fair coverage by media companies. A presidential system would not only give Erdogan more authority to appoint judges and ministers, and control budgets, but also allow him to rule for two more terms - until 2029 - and it would solidify Turkey's shift to authoritarianism. The ruling party argues however that the reforms, which require courts to be "impartial" - and not just "independent" - will strengthen the judiciary. The final decision would rest with the constitutional court, composed nearly entirely of the president's appointees. Currently, the council of ministers is largely made up of elected legislators.

Cabinet ministers would no longer have to be members of Parliament and the Parliament would not have power over Cabinet appointments - ministers would be appointed directly by the president. The president would also be allowed to retain ties to a political party.

The current setup requires the president to be nonpartisan. "If the president is not speaking out, if he acknowledges it, then what would be the decision of nationalists - who are against a federal structure and support a unitary one - be (in the referendum) in two days?"

How it runs itself, either as a parliamentary democracy or an executive presidency, will have clear ramifications for internal policy and its interaction with other countries.

The amendments were approved by parliament in January, but fell short of the majority required to directly come into effect without a national vote. Founded in 1923, the Turkish republic did not hold its first multiparty elections until 1946.

Other changes include the minimum age of parliamentary candidates reduced to 18 and the number of deputies increased to 600.

  • Jon Douglas