Turkey sees final day of campaigning ahead of landmark vote

Turkey sees final day of campaigning ahead of landmark vote

Erdogan is predicting at least a 55 percent margin for "yes".

Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party has enjoyed a disproportionate share of media coverage in the buildup to the vote, but the result may be close.

Erdogan said the proposed reforms could help counter a series of threats, including a failed military coup past year and a string of deadly bombings, some attributed to the Islamic State group. The Erdogan government has used the emergency powers to conduct a sweeping purge of the military, judiciary and civil service. Some 100,000 people — including judges and teachers — have been dismissed, and more than 40,000 people, including journalists and opposition pro-Kurdish legislators, have been arrested. "Brothers and sisters, I always have been and will always be the biggest supporter and biggest defender of Turkey's unitary structure", Erdogan said during a "Yes" rally in the central Turkish province of Konya. The Islamic State group has called for attacks against the referendum.

Ankara has declared its "full support" for the Trump administration's decision to escalate the war for regime change in Syria, while Russian Federation and Iran, Turkey's partners in the Astana talks, condemned the strike against the Syrian government.

The people are suspected of having links to what Turkey entitles FETO, an alleged terrorist network run by Fethullah Gulen, a cleric based in the United States whom Ankara blames for the coup attempt of July 15. They say a stronger government will be better at fighting terrorism; the country has suffered several recent attacks.

At a rally in Istanbul, one of four he held in the last hours before Sunday's vote, Erdogan described the constitutional proposals as the biggest change in Turkey since the country was established almost a century ago, and the culmination of the response to July's abortive putsch. The final decision would rest with the constitutional court, composed nearly entirely of the president's appointees.

But critics argue that Erdogan, who has been at the helm of Turkish government as prime minister or president since 2003, will simply cement his hold on power with even fewer checks and balances if the "yes" side wins. Some are eager to avoid a repeat of the deadlocked coalition governments that hindered growth in the 1990s and are exhausted of frequent military coups.

The proposal would boost executive powers of the president if it is passed.

The changes will also grant authority to the President to issue decrees within the executive jurisdiction, declare a state of emergency and appoint public officials. Under the current Constitution, presidents are required to severe ties with their parties.

The "Yes" campaign also hit a last-minute hitch when the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the AKP's partner in promoting the changes, reacted angrily to comments by a presidential adviser suggesting a federal system could be imposed in Turkey. The number of members of the HSYK will be cut from 22 to 13 with four of them to be directly appointed by the president and seven of them by parliament, while the justice minister and his or her undersecretary will continue to be a natural member of the council. These powers have also limited the role of Parliament. The constitutional changes would go into effect after the 2019 presidential elections. Under the proposed changes, Erdogan could have his term limit effectively reset and stay in power through 2029.

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