MORE THAN 55M TURKS TO VOTE IN HISTORIC REFERENDUM

Ankara, – More than 55 million Turkish citizens will vote Sunday on tomorrow referendum proposing constitutional changes, including giving wide-ranging executive powers to the president, Anadolu News Agency reported.

Citizens will go to over 167,000 polling stations nationwide. Over 1 million of them are first-time voters who recently turned 18. Inmates — except for the criminals who are convicted for intentional crime — will also be able to vote at 463 polling stations located inside state prisons.

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. The Yes campaign is backed by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whereas the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is in favor of No.

The constitutional changes have been discussed since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was voted president in August 2014. This marked the first time a Turkish president had been directly chosen by popular vote.

The 18-article bill was passed by parliament in January, with 339 votes in favor — nine more than needed to put the proposal to a referendum.

The reforms would extend the president’s executive powers and the president would also be allowed to retain ties to a political party.

The other major changes include lowering the age to become a lawmaker to 18 from 25, increasing the number of seats in parliament from 550 to 600, closing down military courts, and same-day parliamentary and presidential elections every five years.

Simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections for a five-year term would be held in November 2019 under the new constitution. (QNA)

Source: Qatar News Agency

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