Erdogan rules out federal system in Turkey after controversy

  • Erdogan rules out federal system in Turkey after controversy

Erdogan rules out federal system in Turkey after controversy

Out of the previous six referendums that Turkey has held since 1961, three have been on new constitutions, which were voted on in 1961, 1982 and 2010. A supporter of the "YES" vote waves a placard as they campaign ahead of the Sunday referendum, in Istanbul, Friday, April 14, 2017. "That is, they will cast their votes in this referendum without knowing its content", said Murat Gezici, head of the Gezici polling company.

Campaigning must end at 1500 GMT but both the "Yes" and "No" camps were squeezing in a flurry of rallies as the clock ticked down to Sunday's landmark poll. Turkey is heading to a con.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to replace the parliamentary system with an executive presidency. In the wake of last year's failed coup attempt, they say there's an even stronger need for a presidency that can withstand plots by unelected officials.

Although the Supreme Election Board has not publicly announced the exact number, according to a story on Turkish national newspaper Milliyet, there are now 78,894 prisoners who were convicted and would be able to vote, 127 percent more than in the November 1 elections.

Nonetheless, Turkey needs a "no" on Sunday.

Supporters say the change will bring stability and efficiency to a government that has often been paralyzed by infighting. Etyen Mahcupyan, a one-time chief adviser to former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a key figure in the AKP, wrote in the Karar newspaper on Thursday that he would be voting "No".

The Economist, while acknowledging that "Turkey is sliding into dictatorship" and "Erdogan is carrying out the harshest crackdown in decades", warns in its current issue that "as a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member and a regional power, Turkey is too important to cut adrift".

If passed, the new presidential system will implement the most radical political shake-up since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, dispensing with the office of the prime minister and centralising the entire executive bureaucracy under the presidency. But he has spent less time on the details of the proposed constitutional reforms. He says he now believes a more powerful presidency is necessary to protect the state.

Much of the campaign was dominated by diplomatic spats with Germany and the Netherlands over restrictions on Turkish ministers being allowed to campaign among the large diaspora voters. It would also create new presidential term limits allowing Erdogan to remain in office as late as 2029.

The current setup requires the president to be nonpartisan. "Two days ago the president compared himself with an Islam prophet". He expressed confidence that the new presidential system would be approved, saying there were no longer undecided voters. Until 2014, presidents were chosen by parliament.

Assuming the referendum passes, most of the changes it contains won't take effect until the next set of elections, due in 2019.

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

The militarist and authoritarian "yes" campaign led by the ruling AKP and the fascistic Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), however, meets with no real opposition inside the Turkish bourgeois establishment.