Turkish people’s yes or no vote underway on presidential powers referendum

The ballots offer a simple “Yes” or “No” choice on whether to endorse parliament’s approval of a new draft constitution

Turks began voting in a hotly contested referendum on Sunday that could place sweeping new powers in the hands of President Tayyip Erdogan and herald the most radical change to the country’s political system in its modern history, Reuters reported.

Opinion polls have given a narrow lead for a “Yes” vote, which would replace Turkey’s parliamentary democracy with an all-powerful presidency and may see Erdogan in office until at least 2029, Reuters added.

The outcome will also 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 Erdogan says he may review the deal after the vote, it said.

Some 55 million people are eligible to vote at 167,140 polling stations across the nation which opened at 7.00 am (0400 GMT) in the east of the country. Voting in the rest of the country begins at 8.00 am and closes at 5 pm (1400 GMT). Turkish voters abroad have already cast their ballots, Reuters indicated.

“A one-man system is being established, so I said ‘No’. I said ‘No’ for a strong parliament,” said Hasan Celik, 29, after voting in the southeast’s largest city, Diyarbakir, according to Reuters.

Ahead of the start of voting, Kurdish militants killed a guard in an attack on a vehicle carrying a district official from the ruling AK Party in southeast Turkey on Saturday night, security sources said, Reuters added.

Reuters also said that they said the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants carried out the attack in the Muradiye district of the southeast’s Van province. A second of the AKP official’s guards was wounded in the attack.

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