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Turkish Referendum Could Result In 'De Facto Dictatorship'

16 Avril 2017

The last day of campaigning is in full swing in Turkey ahead of a referendum on April 16 on enhancing the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and reworking the country's governing system. Erdogan and his supporters say the 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.

The changes give the president considerable powers over the appointment of members of a council that overseas judges and prosecutors - a move that critics say could further erode the already weak separation of powers in Turkey.

The average person's income has risen from $3,800 in 2003, when Erdogan became prime minister, to around $10,000 in 2017, according to data from the World Bank.

Former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke before Erdogan at a "Yes" rally in the Anatolian city of Konya on Friday but, to the amusement of opposition commentators, failed once to endorse the presidential system.

The President will also be able to declare a state of emergency without necessary cabinet approval and to draft the budget, which is now drawn up by Parliament.

The president would be able to remain a member of a political party or even lead it - ending the tradition of presidential impartiality.

Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is a modern centre-right party.

Erdogan said the new system will bring stability in a time of turmoil marked by a Kurdish insurgency, Islamist militancy and conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Turkey's state-run news agency says 49 people with alleged links to the Islamic State group have been detained for planning "sensational attacks" in the run-up to Sunday's referendum on increasing the powers of the president.

If the referendum is approved, the Parliament would have reduced oversight powers.

The president would have a five-year tenure, for a maximum of two terms. But Erdogan's ambition to strengthen the presidency and his own position long predates the coup attempt. The cabinet can now draft laws for the president's approval, with only a simple yes-or-no vote from Parliament.

Erdogan has painted supporters of the "no" campaign as people bent on destabilizing the nation, accusing them of siding with those blamed for the July 2016 attempted coup.

Last year, Turkey saw a host of terrorist attacks, a lot of them blamed on either the Daesh terrorist group or the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). More than 40,000 people, including opposition pro-Kurdish legislators, have been arrested.

"Please just think about it", said Abdullah, one of sixteen Turks who shared their views on the referendum. Government officials dismiss this concern, noting that France is holding elections this spring while under a state of emergency following terrorist attacks in Paris.

But if voters choose "no", Erdogan won't be deterred.

His government subsequently imposed a state of emergency giving him unprecedented powers; this has been extended several times. "April 16 will be an answer to the European Union", Erdogan said in a TV interview late on Thursday. The opposition CHP Party is against the 18 proposed reforms.

ISTANBUL (AP) — Campaigning for Turkey's crucial referendum on whether to expand presidential powers has entered its final stretch, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing flag-waving supporters in an Istanbul neighborhood to drum up support for his "yes" campaign.

Turkish Referendum Could Result In 'De Facto Dictatorship'