A day after the Turkish Parliament approved a constitutional amendment package that will open the way to a switch from a parliamentary system of governance to an executive presidency, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan kicked off a referendum campaign in İstanbul on Saturday.
“Now, I ask a favor of you. I believe that you will walk towards the future by working day and night during the campaign for the referendum. Because we have God. Because we are one nation, one flag, one country and one state. Hence, don’t stop, but continue on,” said Erdoğan on Saturday during an inauguration ceremony for the Tavşantepe Metro Station in the Pendik district of İstanbul.
“God willing, my nation will make the final decision. And Turkey will reach a new turning point.”
The amendment package, passed with 339 votes in favor and 142 against, will likely be put to a referendum in April.
There has been strong opposition to the constitutional amendments over fears of one-man rule in Turkey as it grants extended powers to the president, and Parliament has recently been the scene of altercations between Justice and Development Party (AKP) and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies.
During debates on articles of the package in the last two weeks, deliberations on the proposed amendments have given way to brawls among parliamentarians as since the constitutional amendment package, which expands the president’s power significantly and brings an executive presidential system to the country, is highly controversial.
With the proposed changes submitted to Parliament by the ruling AKP and opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the president will also be vested with the power to dissolve Parliament.