Turkey votes in historic referendum on presidential powers

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By Alasdair Sandford
Turkey votes in historic referendum on presidential powers

<p>Turkey has been going to the polls in the long-awaited referendum that would give Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers.</p> <p>The president cast his ballot in Istanbul on Sunday morning along with his wife and two grandchildren, amid tight security.</p> <p>He and his supporters argue the changes, described as the most radical in Turkey’s modern history, are needed to guarantee political stability. </p> <p>Prime Minister Binali Yildirim cast his vote at a school in Izmir province, saying the result would be respected whatever the outcome.</p> <p>If a “yes” vote prevails, his office is set to be abolished – with the president being given the authority to draft the budget, declare a state of emergency and issue decrees without parliamentary approval.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Some pro-govt newspapers were published this morning with near-identical headlines. Variations on “Yes, now the nation speaks.” <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TurkeyVotes?src=hash">#TurkeyVotes</a> <a href="https://t.co/RCV7iSarrt">pic.twitter.com/RCV7iSarrt</a></p>— JamesInTurkey.com (@jamesinturkey) <a href="https://twitter.com/jamesinturkey/status/853519831362142208">April 16, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <br /> <p>The main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the Republican People’s Party (<span class="caps">CHP</span>) cast his vote in Ankara. He has accused Erdogan of seeking a “one-man” regime under changes that would put the country in danger.</p> <p>In turn he has been ridiculed by the president, who has equated a “No” vote with support for terrorism.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tr" dir="ltr">Voting an hour ago, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called for a “hayırlı” result. That can mean both “favourable” and “with No”. <a href="https://t.co/Gy521VkIKY">https://t.co/Gy521VkIKY</a> <a href="https://t.co/DB19AVhmCB">pic.twitter.com/DB19AVhmCB</a></p>— JamesInTurkey.com (@jamesinturkey) <a href="https://twitter.com/jamesinturkey/status/853545043164057600">April 16, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <br /> <p>Erdogan’s opponents fear a “Yes” will lead to more repression. Last July’s failed coup sent shockwaves through Turkey, bringing bad memories of military rule.</p> <p>But the president has been accused of using it to silence opponents. Media outlets have been closed, and many journalists and others sacked and often imprisoned.</p>