Turks vote in historic referendum on expanding Erdogan’s power

ANKARA/ISTANBUL – Turks cast their votes in a referendum on Sunday that would give sweeping new powers to President Tayyip Erdogan and herald the most radical change to the country’s political system in its modern history.

Opinion polls have shown 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.

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.

A crowd chanted “Recep Tayyip Erdogan” and applauded as the president shook hands and greeted people after voting in a school near his home in Istanbul. His staff handed out toys for children in the crowd.

“God willing I believe our people will decide to open the path to much more rapid development,” Erdogan said in the polling station after casting his vote.

“I believe in my people’s democratic common sense.”

Some 55 million people are eligible to vote at 167,140 polling stations which opened at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) in the east and 8 a.m. in the rest of Turkey.

Voting ends at 5 p.m. (1400 GMT). Turkish voters abroad have already cast their ballots.

Source: Angola Press News Agency