News Worms
News Worms


Turkish referendum: Erdogan with advantage

The ´Yes´ campaign to give Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expanded powers was just ahead of its rival Sunday in a bitterly-contested referendum that will determine Turkey´s future destiny, initial results said.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said the "yes" vote in favour of constitutional changes which would boost President Tayyip Erdogan's powers stood at 59.4 percent, with around 40 percent of ballots counted.

"Critics of the proposed changes fear the move would make the president" s position too powerful, arguing that it would amount to one-man rule, without the checks and balances of other presidential systems.

The vote in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir started one hour earlier at 7am (0400 GMT).

Erdogan has long championed the idea of changing Turkey's system of government from parliamentary to presidential.

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People were already lined up at an Istanbul polling station before it opened.

Erdogan has also blasted European countries, accusing the Netherlands of Germany of being Nazis after authorities there refused to allow Turkish ministers to hold rallies to woo expatriate voters for the referendum.

The outcome is expected to have a huge effect on Turkey's long-term political future and its global relations.

Yildirim was later due to address supporters from the headquarters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara while Erdogan was watching the results in Istanbul. "A one-man system is like that", he said. Some 48 million of 55 million eligible voters cast ballots on a raft of 18 constitutional amendments that will fundamentally alter the Turkish government, taking effect in the next scheduled election in 2019.

"Yes, yes, yes! Our leader is the gift of God to us", said Mualla Sengul.

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The MHP backs the government-driven changes to strengthen Erdogan's powers but a significant dissident faction does not. We will always support him. President Erdogan has taken a more active role than his predecessors, but until the referendum the Prime Minister remained the chief executive.

It will also allow the president to dissolve parliament, and issue executive decrees and state of emergencies. The AP reports that supporters of the "yes" vote have dominated the airwaves, while supporters of the "no" vote have complained of intimidation. Another said he had backed "Yes" for a stronger republic and that "the outside world is against Turkey".

The crackdown saw roughly 100,000 people lose their jobs, including judges, lawyers, teachers, journalists, military officers and police. Media outlets are stifled, hundreds of non-governmental organizations and news outlets have been shut down, as have many businesses, from schools to fertility clinics.

Turkey has also suffered renewed violence between Kurdish militants and security forces in the country's volatile southeast, as well as a string of bombings, some attributed to the Islamic State group, which is active across the border in Syria.

This once stable corner of the region has in recent years been convulsed by terror attacks and millions of refugees, mostly from Syria, have arrived.

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