Erdoğan confident of winning, opposition urges people to vote

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu

While main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu says the “no” votes are ahead, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed that opinion polls show Sunday’s referendum on a constitutional package that will change the country’s system of governance to an executive presidency will be approved by the people.

“For the time being, the results coming from all pollsters show that the ‘yes’ votes will win. Some show a rate below 55 [percent], while others indicate between 55-60 [percent],” Erdoğan said during an interview with the state-run TRT TV on Friday.

Contrary to Erdoğan, CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu said according to a recent opinion poll, the rate of naysayers is at about 53 percent. Claiming that the government is trying to discourage undecided voters from voting by presenting higher rates for the “yes” vote, Kılıçdaroğlu called on people to cast their ballots.

“The more people who vote, the more the ‘no’ votes will lead against the ‘yes’ votes.”

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), backed by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), pushed through the legislation that President Erdoğan says will bring the strong leadership needed to prevent a return of the fragile coalition governments of the past.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) fear the reform will fuel authoritarianism.

Parliament’s approval paved the way for a nationwide referendum on the amendments, which would give the president, a traditionally more ceremonial role, the power to dismiss ministers and Parliament, issue decrees, declare emergency rule and appoint figures to key positions, including the judiciary.

It would also allow the president to be a member of a political party, which is currently prohibited under the constitution as the presidency is expected to exercise impartiality.

The reform will enable Erdoğan to appoint and dismiss government ministers, take back the leadership of the ruling party and govern until 2029.

The plans foresee presidential and general elections in 2019, with a maximum of two five-year terms.

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