STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

'Yes' camp ahead in Turkey poll on President Erdogan powers: First results

The 'Yes' campaign to give Turkish President Erdogan expanded powers was ahead of its rival in a bitterly-contested referendum.

Published: 16th April 2017 08:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th April 2017 08:33 PM   |  A+A-

Protesters wave flags and banners with pictures of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, outside the Dutch consulate in central Istanbul's Istiklal Avenue. (AP)

By AFP

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

The 'Yes' campaign won 63.2 percent of the vote while the 'No' campaign  mustered 36.8 percent, the election commission said in figures quoted by the NTV channel, in an initial count based on 25 percent of the ballot boxes.

The result could still change as more ballot boxes are counted across the hugely diverse country following the close of polls at 1400 GMT.

For the changes to be implemented the 'Yes' camp needs to win 50 percent plus one vote.

More than 55.3 million Turks were eligible to cast ballots on sweeping changes to the president's role which, if approved, would grant Erdogan more power than any leader since modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his successor Ismet Inonu.

Voting in Istanbul along with his family, Erdogan predicted that "our people would walk to the future" by making the right choice.

After a stamina-busting campaign that saw insults flung in both directions, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said: "Whatever choice comes out on top, our nation will make the most beautiful decision." 

Yildirim was later due to address supporters from the headquarters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara while Erdogan was due to watch the results in Istanbul.

The opposition has cried foul that the referendum has been conducted on unfair terms, with 'Yes' posters ubiquitous on the streets and opposition voices squeezed from the media.

The poll is also taking place under a state of emergency that has seen 47,000 people arrested in an unprecedented crackdown after the failed putsch of July last year.

"We are voting for Turkey's destiny," said the standard-bearer of the 'No' camp, Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

"God willing, the result will be auspicious and we will all have the chance to discuss Turkey's fundamental problems."

The co-leaders of Turkey's second largest opposition party, the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, have been jailed on charges of links to Kurdish militants in what the party says is a deliberate move to eliminate them from the campaign.

Closely watched on Monday will be the initial assessment of the international observer mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Three people were killed in a shootout in the garden of a school used as a polling station in the southeastern Diyarbakir region, the Dogan news agency said, but it was not clear if the fighting was linked to the election or simply a family feud.

If passed, the new presidential system would dispense with the office of prime minister and centralise the entire executive bureaucracy under the president, giving Erdogan the direct power to appoint ministers.

The system would come into force after the elections in November 2019. Erdogan, who became president in 2014 after serving as premier from 2003, could then seek two more five-year mandates.

Supporters see the new system as an essential modernisation step for Turkey that will remove the risk of the political chaos that blighted the 1990s and is blamed for the 2000-2001 financial crisis.

Opponents fear it risks granting Erdogan authoritarian powers and allow him to ride roughshod over key institutions like the judiciary and parliament.

In the Kurdish-majority southeastern province of Diyarbakir, self-employed Nihat Aslanbay said he voted against the reforms.

"A one man regime will not bring any benefits to this country. I said 'No' (because I'm) for an egalitarian constitution that also includes the Kurds, and for freedoms."

But in Istanbul, voter Emrah Yerlinkaya said he voted 'Yes' "to support" Erdogan. "If we are here today, it is thanks to him. I also voted because I support the constitutional reform."

Beyond changing the government system, the vote could also have even wider implications for Turkey which joined NATO in 1952 and for the last half-century has set its sights on joining the European Union.

Erdogan has warned Brussels that in the event of a 'Yes' vote he would sign any bill agreed by parliament to reinstate capital punishment, a move that would automatically end its EU bid.

Western reactions to the referendum outcome will be crucial after Erdogan accused Turkey's allies of failing to show sufficient solidarity in the wake of the July 15 failed coup.

Sinan Ekim and Kemal Kirisci of the Brookings Institution think-tank said in a report the changes if agreed "would set in motion the most drastic shake-up of the country's politics and system of governance in its 94-year-long history".

After a slew of attacks over the last year blamed on Kurdish militants and jihadists, security is a major concern with 380,000 police on duty nationwide.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

IPL_2020
flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp