Turkish President Erdogan bids to centralise power in revolutionary vote

  • 16/04/2017

Turkey's political system could undergo the most radical shift in the modern history of the nation with a ground-breaking referendum underway.

Turks are voting in an election that could sweep power into the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and opinion polls have given a narrow lead for a 'Yes' vote on Sunday (local time).

Voters are set to decide whether to endorse Mr Erdogan's bid to centralise power into his hands in the most revolutionary shake-up since the republic was formed 93 years ago.

This would replace Turkey's parliamentary democracy with an all-powerful presidency and may see Mr Erdogan in office until at least 2029.

The outcome will also shape Turkey's strained relations with the European Union.

The NATO member state has curbed the flow of migrants - mainly refugees from wars in Syria and Iraq - into the bloc, but Mr Erdogan has said he might review the deal after the vote.

Around 55 million people are eligible to vote, and Turkish voters abroad have already cast their ballots.

However, the referendum has bitterly divided the nation.

Mr Erdogan and his supporters said changes are needed to amend the current constitution, written by generals following a 1980 military coup, confront the security and political challenges Turkey faces, and avoid the fragile coalition governments of the past.

Opponents have called it a step towards greater authoritarianism in a country where around 40,000 people have been arrested and 120,000 sacked or suspended from their jobs in a crackdown following a failed coup last July, drawing criticism from Turkey's Western allies and rights groups.

Relations between Turkey and Europe hit a low during the referendum campaign when EU countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, barred Turkish ministers from holding rallies in support of the changes.

Mr Erdogan called the moves "Nazi acts" and said Turkey could reconsider ties with the European Union after many years of seeking EU membership.

Reuters / Newshub.