Turks head to polling booths to determine country’s future

55 million Turkish citizens will vote on whether to adopt the constitutional changes giving more power and authority to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today. After months of an aggressive campaign, which was characterized by growing tensions between Turkey and a number of European countries, Erdoğan will find out whether he managed to convince his people to give him more power.

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On Sunday, millions of Turkish citizens will take part in the referendum on whether to adopt the constitutional changes giving more power and authority to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. According to recent polls, the changes are expected to be adopted by a narrow margin.

55 million eligible Turkish voters will determine today whether Erdoğan should receive more executive powers, becoming the most powerful president since modern Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The results of the referendum, according to assessments, are expected to have a significant impact on Turkey’s relations with the Western world, especially given Turkey’s important role in the NATO alliance and the thousands of Syrian refugees who are in Turkey.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

In recent months, the referendum has divided the Turkish people. Erdoğan’s supporters claim that the changes are necessary in order to repair the current constitution that they say does not provide an adequate solution to the political and security challenges that Turkey is facing. However, those who oppose the changes claim that if they are accepted, Turkey will be on the road to becoming an authoritarian regime. They highlight the high number of political arrests since the failed coup attempt last July.

Erdoğan and Merkel Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

The months before the referendum were characterized by growing tensions between Turkey and a number of European countries. In March, a support rally for Erdoğan was supposed to take place in Rotterdam, Holland. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced his intentions to attend the rally and deliver a speech. His announcement aroused opposition in the Dutch government, which made it clear that it would not allow the minister to speak at the event. In response, the Turkish minister said that “the Netherlands treats Turkish citizens as hostages.”

During Erdoğan’s aggressive campaign, he was managed to butt heads with Germany as well. Last month, Erdoğan criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel, claiming that she is aiding radical Islamic terrorism and even compared the German government to the Nazi regime after a support rally for the constitutional changes was canceled.



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