Ankara – Turkey stands at a crossroad as Turks decide on Sunday which direction their country will take after voting on a referendum to introduce key changes in the system of governance.
The referendum is backed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) with an aim to reach “stable” governance.
However, Erdogan’s opponents look at Sunday’s referendum as a tool used to implement “the regime of a one-man rule.”
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “Whatever the result will be, Turkey will remain a strong, stable and democratic country and a reliable actor for its global partners.”
Cavusoglu added that the “upcoming referendum is about constitutional changes for a new system of governance,” and is part of the democratic process and passes through parliament.
People will cast their ballots on Sunday to amend an 18-article reform bill that seeks to introduce new constitutional reforms and would hand wide-ranging executive powers to the president. If passed, the new amendment would abolish the prime ministry seat and would enable the president to issue decrees, appoint his ministers and top state officials without getting Parliament’s vote of confidence.
Erdogan’s opponents say the amendment would merge the judicial, legislative and executive authorities in one person.
However, Chair of Defense and Intelligence Parliamentary Commission Emrullah Isler expects the Turkish people to vote with a big “Yes” on the referendum, adding that the presidential regime will lead the country towards political and economic stability.
The referendum will take place in the east and southern east of Turkey from 7am till 4pm, while voting in the rest of the country will start at 8am and end at 5pm.
Turkey’s Interior Ministry has already prepared 400 thousands policemen to protect the committees running the referendum, while the Health Ministry planned to transport around 13,000 patients from their residents to polling stations, where they will be able to participate in the referendum.
Over 55.3 million Turks are able to vote in the referendum on changes to the president’s role.
On the eve of the vote, Erdogan held four separate rallies in Istanbul, urging supporters to turn out in large numbers.
The president said that in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote he would sign a bill, if agreed by parliament, to reinstate capital punishment.