Erdogan is campaigning to make 18 amendments to the Turkish constitution, extending his potential term of office to 2029 and allowing him to appoint cabinet ministers and judges. He has been trying to redefine the position of president since 2005. But the referendum has proven deeply divisive. Rumor has it that MHP leader Devlet Bahceli has been promised a post as vice-president in return for his cooperation.
Still, time allocated to the different parties on television shows Erdogan and his ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) receiving 4,113 minutes of airtime up to 30 March and the CHP (Republican Peoples’ Party), which received 25 percent of the vote in the last election, getting just 216 minutes, the Guardian noted.
Also held since November 2016 are Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, the co-leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the third largest party in the Turkish parliament, on accusations of supporting the PKK.
Fisherman Birol Bahtiyar, wearing a cap emblazoned with a “Yes” slogan, dismissed suggestions by opponents that the referendum was a power-grab by Erdogan or that he was leading Turkey into a one-man regime.
“Erdogan has to continue to win votes in order to stay in power and campaign round the clock”, she said.
That depends on whom you ask. The proposed changes will ensure long-term political stability and, by extension, further strengthen the Turkish economy.
“So that without any justification, the president will be able to abolish the parliament”. The current system, furthermore, tends to produce weak coalition governments and to keep the political arena fragmented.
Turkey has been under a state of emergency since a group in the Turkish army tried to overthrow the government in a failed coup attempt that killed around 300 people in total. Erdoğan accused the countries of attacking on Turkey with police violence and state terrorism, indirectly referring to the Netherlands and Germany, which restricted gatherings between Turkish ministers and the Turkish community ahead of the polls. Excessive concentration of powers may lead a president to become authoritarian.
Will expatriate Turks decide the referendum? “The problem is Europe doesn’t want to see us as one of them”, he said.
Some 1.4 million Turkish voters live in Germany.
“The new proposal will see people electing MPs and the executive”.
The Konsensus polling company put the “yes” vote on 51.2 percent after the distribution of undecided voters. More power for Erdoğan appears to be mean more power for a non-secular Turkey – something Europe has not dealt with since the days of the Ottoman Empire. “The referendum is a threat to democracy”, the MRF said in a statement on Friday. The meeting also helps restore trust after Turkey shot down a Russian jet over the Syrian-Turkish border in late 2015.
Marc Pierini, visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, said European Union leaders will have a “decision to make on both the style and substance of future relations with Turkey”.
Turkey has been attempting to become part of the European Union for decades.
NATO, however, is another matter. Yet a stronger Erdogan, acting within constitutional restraints, is what Turkey and the wider Middle East needs at the moment.
A high turnout overseas is likely to boost Erdogan, pollsters say, citing past elections, but at home it could hurt him as opposition voters traditionally make up a bigger proportion of those who tend to shun the polls on an election day. By midnight on that date, it should be clear whether the refendum has succeeded or not.