Turkey referendum: Polls give narrow lead for 'yes'

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By Euronews
Turkey referendum: Polls give narrow lead for 'yes'

There are just two days to go until Turkey goes to the polls in a referendum that could give sweeping new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He wants to replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with an executive presidency.

It would mark the biggest change in Turkey’s political system in the nation’s modern history.

After a close fought race, new opinion polls suggest a narrow majority of those in the country are ready to back Erdogan and say ‘yes’ to the constitutional change.

Yet as one pollster explains, undecided voters could hold the key.

“When we put them equally in the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps, we see ‘Yes’ ahead at 51.3 percent,” said Murat Gezici, head of the Gezici Research Agency.

“But as part of our margin of error, if we group the undecided voters with those who choose to abstain, we see the ‘No’ vote leading.”

Just as the campaign has split Turkey down the middle, its divisions have spilled over to the large Turkish diaspora in Europe. More than 1 million expatriate votes have reportedly arrived in Ankara, ready to be counted.

President Erdogan has accused European leaders of acting like Nazis for banning rallies on security grounds, while his opponents overseas say they have been spied on.

Erdogan and his supporters argue that strengthening the presidency would avert instability associated with coalition governments, at a time when Turkey faces major security threats from Islamist and Kurdish militants.

He told a rally in the northern province of Ordu on Thursday that a ‘yes’ vote in Sunday’s referendum was needed to fight terrorism more efficiently.

But Erdogan’s critics fear a further drift into authoritarianism under a leader they regard as bent on eroding modern Turkey’s democracy and secular foundations.

with Reuters