Turkey says YES to historic change

Sunrise over the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

The victory for the "Yes" campaign in Turkey's referendum means the country's constitution will be amended to replace the parliamentary system of governance, moving to an executive presidency.

Turkey has voted to adopt a presidential system of governance in a historic referendum that saw fierce campaigning from the "Yes" and "No" camps across the country right up to the eve of polling day.

The victory for the "Yes" campaign means Turkey's constitution will be amended to replace the parliamentary system, scrap the office of the prime minister and transform the presidency from a ceremonial position to an executive one.

More than 55 million Turks were eligible to vote in Sunday's referendum and there was a large turn out at 167,140 polling stations across the country. Close to three million Turkish nationals around the world were eligible to vote and according to initial reports a large number of them have cast their ballots.

Polling closed at 1400 GMT and, with vote counting speedily efficient in Turkey, the outcome was clear soon after. For the changes to be implemented, the "Yes" camp simply needed to win 50 percent plus one vote.

The constitutional amendments proposed by the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) were backed by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Turkish President Erdogan leaves a voting booth at a polling station in Istanbul. (Reuters)

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) had been campaigning for a "no" vote, against the proposed changes.

Supporters of the constitutional amendments say the new system of governance is an essential modernisation step for Turkey that will remove the risk of the political chaos that stunted growth in the 1990s and is blamed for the 2000-2001 financial crisis.

The outcome is likely to 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 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he may review the deal after the vote.

The "No" campaigners, in the lead up to the referendum, argued that the new form of governance risked granting too much power to the presidency and weakened key institutions.

Electoral staff members in Istanbul count votes after polls closed in Turkey's tightly-contested referendum. Source: AFP

Here are the key points of the constitutional amendments that Turkey voted on:

• Position of the prime minister will be abolished

• The number of MPs will be increased to 600

• High-ranking public executives will be directly appointed by the president

• The president can be sent to the high court with 400 votes

• State of emergency will be declared by the president and approved by the parliament

• The president will not be required to dissociate from his/her political party

• Judiciary, in addition to independence, will also be defined as impartial

• Parliamentary and presidential elections will be held simultaneously every five years

• The parliament will be able to request an investigation into the president’s affairs by passing a majority vote

• The president will appoint ministers and vice president(s)

• The Board of Judges and Prosecutors will be comprised of the minister of justice, the undersecretary, seven members appointed by the parliament, and four members appointed by the president

• The age requirement to become an MP will be lowered to 18

• The legislative prerogative of the Parliament will be maintained

• The investigation decree for the president requires 360 votes

• Both the president and the parliament will be able to request a re-election

• The president must get parliamentary approval for the budget

• Military courts will be restricted to disciplinary issues among military officers

( Source: TRT World )


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