Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has cast his vote in the Turkish referendum on Sunday as voting for the proposed amendments to Turkey’s constitution is currently taking place across the country.
Erdoğan arrived with his wife, Emine, at the Saffet Çebi middle school, in the Istanbul district of Üsküdar, to cast his ballot amid heavy security.
"Today’s public vote in the April 16 referendum is unprecedented. Throughout the history of our republic, there has been parliamentary voting on various occasions. However, our people’s vote today is one that will change the republic’s governance system," said Erdoğan after casting his ballot, and adding that, "We need to have quicker growth, we need to have a much faster pace. I believe that after votes are counted this evening, the choice of our people, both in Turkey and abroad, will, God willing, put us on the correct path towards the future. "
Erdoğan said that he will be following the results from Istanbul, and expressed his faith in the good judgement of the Turkish people.
55 million Turks are eligible to vote in the referendum.
There are 167,140 ballot boxes nationwide catering to 55,319,222 eligible voters. Ballots have also been placed in prisons, and more than 1.2 million Turkish expatriates voted abroad at 120 polling stations in 57 countries.
Polling centers opened at 08:00 am on Sunday in most provinces and voting will continue until 5:00 pm.
Turkish PM casts vote in referendum
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, cast his vote Sunday morning in the coastal city of Izmir as voting begins in the referendum on amending several articles in the constitution, including switching to a presidential system in Turkey.Yıldırım cast his ballot at the Gölcükler Adnan Olcay middle school in the coastal city of Izmir."Today, citizens across Turkey’s 81 provinces are voting in an atmosphere of peace and fellowship, they’re choosing, and come this evening, the boxes will be opened and the results will be known," Yıldırım said after casting his vote, adding that, "No matter what the result ends up being, we’ll respect it. The choice made by our people is the most beautiful one."55 million Turks are eligible to vote in the referendum.There are 167,140 ballot boxes nationwide catering to 55,319,222 eligible voters. Ballots have also been placed in prisons, and more than 1.2 million Turkish expatriates voted abroad at 120 polling stations in 57 countries.Polling centers opened at 08:00 am on Sunday in most provinces and voting will continue until 5:00 pm.Video: Turkish PM casts vote in referendumTurkey heads to the polls for landmark referendumGaleri: Turks vote in histroic referendum
Turkey heads to the polls for landmark referendum
The polls have opened to Turkish voters for a historic constitutional referendum that can change the country’s system of governance.There are 167,140 ballot boxes nationwide catering to 55,319,222 eligible voters. Ballots have also been placed in prisons, and more than 1.2 million Turkish expatriates voted abroad at 120 polling stations in 57 countries.Polls will remain open until 17:00 (local time) in most provinces.“Yes” voters have rallied behind President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who they describe as a leader capable of steering Turkey to success in a time of terrorism infused turbulence, security threats and the aftermath of the July 15th coup attempt.Erdoğan, who has governed since 2003, has wrangled inflation rates, which exceeded 100 percent in the early 1990s, and nurtured Turkey’s economic growth. He galvanized civil liberties and foreign investment soared.Working class conservatives were given a voice by Erdoğan. As a NATO member and regional power, Turkey has entered the world stage as a key player.Why is the referendum important?Turkey’s constitution was penned in 1982 by generals who shepherded a military coup two years earlier, and has since been modified 18 times by six different governments.The current system is a hybrid, neither a parliamentary nor a presidential system. The system features both a directly elected parliament and a directly elected president. Elections determine who holds the post of president and prime minister, and any dispute on policy between the two could cause a deadlock and spark a political crisis.Turkey’s political history is scattered with such crises. Unease between President Turgut Ozal and Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel cost Turkey in international relations, and the tension between President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit resulted in economic mayhem.The system has hosted a series of unstable coalition governments, resulting in a myriad of military coups. The Turkish people have witnessed 65 governments in the Republic of Turkey’s 95 years of existence.Throughout Turkey’s political history, there have been plots by oligarchies that infiltrated the military and government institutions to carry out coups. July 15 marked the fifth military coup Turkey has survived.The 2007 referendum was a step taken toward stability, and Sunday’s referendum is an opportunity for the Turkish people to place power firmly within the presidency to reconcile contradictions and inefficiencies within the current system.What will change?The reforms were approved by 339 deputies on Jan. 21, and Erdoğan signed the amendments on Feb. 10. Today, the people will have their say.Under the proposed changes, the president, vice president(s) and cabinet officials could be investigated by the parliament. The current system has no mechanism that monitors presidential conduct.The new constitution proposes a streamlined legislative process. The post of prime minister will be abolished and the president will be able to issue laws by decree concerning specific areas of executive power. The parliament will be able to declare a decree void, and presidential decrees will be monitored by Parliament and the Constitutional Court.The president will appoint four members to the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, Turkey’s highest legal body responsible for the judicial system, which is the same number as the president appoints now, and the Parliament will appoint the remaining members. The number of members will be reduced from 17 to 15.The new constitution would also abolish military commissions and courts, which were the remnants of an outdated constitution written by coup plotting generals. This is perhaps one of the most significant of the proposed changes, because for the first time in Turkey’s history the judiciary would be completely under civilian control. The Cabinet will also be abolished but ministers will remain.The president will also be able to appoint presidential aides and ministers and also unseat them.Turgut Özal, Süleyman Demirel and Tansu Ciller are among former leaders who called for similar reform under a presidential system.The age of candidacy for Parliament would be lowered from 25 to 18, and the total number of parliamentarians will increase from 550 to 600 in order to better represent the growing population.Galeri: Turks vote in histroic referendumTurkey to see 18 articles put to vote in referendumMore than 55M Turks to vote in historic referendumTurkey issues referendum broadcast ban