Campaigning for Turkey referendum hits final stretch

(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici). People walk past a "YES" billboard with an image of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ahead of the Sunday referendum, in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, April 14, 2017.

Erdoğan now has a narrow lead for the "Yes" vote with opinion polls now suggesting he has a 51% backing to introduce the changes.

Speaking live on television in Istanbul, Erdogan said a "yes" victory would "break the shackles on Turkey's hands", adding: "My people's answer on Sunday will not only be national but at the same time will be global".

Its leader's decision to back Erdogan's bid for more powers created a huge rift in the party.

It's been just nine months since Erdogan beat off a military coup.

Here's a primer on the referendum that will decide Turkey's political fate.

Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said lately that over 250,000 security personnel and more than 120,000 members of the gendarmerie had been posted to ensure the security of the referendum across the country. Under a state of emergency imposed in the wake of the coup attempt, Erdogan fired more than 100,000 people and jailed 40,000, among them academics, journalists and judges. Recent years have seen a rise in terrorism and social unrest. "Power corrupted, and absolute power will corrupt more absolutely".

The changes would mean that Erdogan could theoretically remain president through 2029, reports US News & World Report. As large an impact as Sunday's vote might have on his future, it will have an even bigger one on his country's. A victory would echo the forces that powered Donald Trump to the White House, pushed Britain out of the European Union and put Marine Le Pen within shouting distance of the French presidency.

The referendum is taking place under ever-increasing national and global tensions that reached a new climax after the United States missile strike at the Shayrat air base in Syria on April 7.

In response, Erdogan accused Kilicdaroglu of communicating with the putschists: "Explain whom you talked to on the phone for 12 minutes?" And Erdogan will have to be elected then to claim the powers this referendum will bring.

Cevik has claimed the Turkish government are having second thoughts about joining the bloc following Brexit. Under the state of emergency, the president has authority over military appointments. "Two days ago the president compared himself with an Islam prophet".

Gulen denies any ties to the coup attempt.

The referendum, meanwhile, polarized Turkey's 58 million eligible voters and left many undecided. It concludes, "If Mr Erdogan loses, Turkey will be a hard ally with a hard future".

ISTANBUL (AP) - In the last day before Turkey's crucial referendum on whether to expand the president's power, both "yes" and "no" campaigners addressed flag-waving supporters Saturday in Istanbul and Ankara. Some are eager to avoid a repeat of the deadlocked coalition governments that hindered growth in the 1990s and are exhausted of frequent military coups.

Though Bahceli has supported Erdogan, many other prominent members have come out in favour of a "no" vote. Turkey is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member helping fight ISIS.

Supporters see the new system as an essential modernisation step for Turkey to streamline government but opponents fear it risks granting Erdogan authoritarian powers.

  • Rogelio Becker