Referendum in Turkey: A poll which is "not normal"

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The Turkish Election Commission has not yet released official results.

Two people have died in a fight outside a polling station in Turkey as the country decides whether to hand more power to President Tayyip Erdogan.

The outcome of the referendum will also shape Turkey's relationship with the European Union - while Turkey has curbed the flow of migrants into the bloc, Erdogan says he may review the deal after the vote.

Turkey is heading to an April 16 contentious referendum on constitutional reforms to expand Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

They would cement Erdogan's grip on a country whose divisions have deepened since a failed coup attempt last July that ended with the deaths of more than 250 people and led to the imposition of a fierce crackdown on dissent.

The outcome is expected to have a huge effect on Turkey's long-term political future and its worldwide relations. Still, it would cement his hold on the country's governance.

"I think, with the presidential system, not only art and science but also our freedoms will be more limited". "Both the ones who said "no" and the ones who said "yes" are one and are equally valuable".

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He has also been accused of planning adductions and murder, as well as leading an Isis command unit in Iraq in 2014. We saw a lot of times on TV and it was far away from us, even when it was in Istanbul which is in my country.

That triggered strong criticism from the main opposition People's Republican Party, which said the decision caused a serious legitimacy problem in the referendum.

Without waiting for the board to declare a result, Erdogan issued a statement thanking the nation and saying he hoped the outcome of the vote "will be good for our nation and for our country".

They say his ability to retain ties to a political party - Mr Erdogan could resume leadership of the AK Party (AKP) he co-founded - would end any chance of impartiality.

Republic People's Party, or CHP, deputy chairman Erdal Aksunger predicted the figure could even increase to 60%.

The opposition Peoples' Democratic Party said on its Twitter account: "Our data indicates a manipulation in the range of 3 to 4 percent".

The country's pro-Kurdish opposition party, which also opposed the constitutional changes, says it plans to object to two-thirds of the ballots.

In contrast, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the CHP, urged supporters in Ankara to back the "No" campaign.

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The constitutional changes - if passed - will only enter into force after the presidential and parliamentary elections set for 2019 take place.

More than 55.3 million Turks were eligible to cast ballots on sweeping changes to the president's role which, if approved, would grant Erdogan more power than any leader since modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his successor Ismet Inonu.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been the country's preeminent politician for the last decade-and-a-half has consolidated personal power, stripped away checks and rivals inside the courts and the government and unleashed an unprecedented crackdown affecting almost all spheres of public life following a failed coup attempt in July of past year.

However, critics fear that the move would make the president too powerful, rendering Turkey's system a one-man rule, without the checks and balances of other presidential systems. Voters used an official stamp to select between "yes" and "no".

I watched as queues of voters turned up to a polling station in Ankara, where the voting process was quick and efficient.

"A one-man system is being established, so I said "No".

Beyond changing the government system, the vote could also have even wider implications for the key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, which for the last half-century has set its sights on joining the European Union.

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Beijing's most powerful leader in decades also invited the USA president on a coveted state visit to China later in the year. The US began deployment of the Thaad system last month, a day after the North test-fired four ballistic missiles.

In another Istanbul neighborhood, a "yes" voter expressed full support of Erdogan.

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