I believe in 'people’s sense of democracy': Erdoğan
President casts vote alongside his wife Emine Erdoğan and close family members in Istanbul
News Service16 APRIL 2017, 12:09AA
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has cast his vote in the country’s referendum on key constitutional reforms, saying he believes in the people’s sense of democracy.
Erdoğan voted alongside his wife Emine Erdoğan and close family members, including his grandchildren.
“This April 16 referendum is not an ordinary voting [process],” he said after casting his ballot, adding that he would follow the outcome from Istanbul.
“We have had many parliamentary elections in our history as a republic. In the meantime, we have also had referendums.
“However, this referendum is a decision of a new administrative system, a change and a transformation in the Republic of Turkey. I hope our people will make a decision to pave the way for a quick development.... We need to grow quicker and walk faster.”
He also said he believed in the people’s sense of democracy.
“I believe our people will walk towards the future by making their expected decisions and by casting their votes inside and overseas. I believe in our people’s common sense of democracy and that they will walk towards the future though this common sense.”
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım voted in western Izmir province.
“Whatever the outcome, it will get a red-carpet treatment. The decision of our people is always the best decision,” Yıldırım told the media after casting his vote.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu voted in southwestern Antalya province.
“Our people will decide Turkey’s future today. I think this day is an important turning point in the country’s future,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş, who voted in Istanbul, urged citizens to participate in the election.
“We wish everyone casts their votes. A high participation means people defend their democracy, the popular will and the future,” Kurtulmuş told reporters.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, who voted in central Yozgat province, said: “Everyone has spoken so far. Today, it is our people’s turn to speak.”
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who voted in the Black Sea province of Trabzon, said people have been casting their votes in a peaceful environment.
“It is the most peaceful election of recent years in Turkey, according to the recent information that we’ve got this morning,” he said.
Defense Minister Fikri Işık told reporters in northwestern Kocaeli province: “I believe the participation in this referendum will be around 90 percent.”
More than 55 million Turkish citizens began voting across the country on Sunday in a historic referendum proposing key constitutional changes, including giving wide-ranging executive powers to the president.
Citizens are casting their ballots at 167,000 polling stations nationwide. Over one million of them are first-time voters who recently turned 18.
Voting is taking place between 7 a.m. (0400GMT) and 4 p.m. (1300GMT) in Turkey's eastern provinces of Adiyaman, Agri, Artvin, Bingol, Bitlis, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Erzincan, Erzurum, Gaziantep, Giresun, Gumushane, Hakkari, Kars, Malatya, Kahramanmaras, Mardin, Mus, Ordu, Rize, Siirt, Sivas, Trabzon, Tunceli, Sanliurfa, Van, Bayburt, Batman, Sirnak, Ardahan, Igdir, and Kilis.
For the rest of the country, ballot boxes opened at 8 a.m. (0500GMT) and people would be allowed to vote until 5 p.m. (1400GMT).
The electorate in Turkey is being asked to vote Yes or No to an 18-article reform bill, which would also change the current parliamentary system to a presidential one.
The Yes campaign is backed by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the opposition, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whereas the main opposition, Republican People's Party (CHP), and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) are in favor of No.
The constitutional changes have been discussed since Erdoğan was voted president in August 2014. This marked the first time a Turkish president had been directly chosen by popular vote.
The 18-article bill was passed by parliament in January, with 339 votes in favor -- nine more than needed to put the proposal to a referendum.
The reforms would extend the president's executive powers and the president would also be allowed to retain ties to a political party.
The other major changes include lowering the age to become a lawmaker to 18 from 25, increasing the number of seats in parliament from 550 to 600, closing down military courts, and same-day parliamentary and presidential elections every five years.