Turkey, Politics

PM sees end to polarization in Turkey post referendum

Binali Yildirim says Turkey to remain republic after upcoming referendum on constitutional reforms

PM sees end to polarization in Turkey post referendum Turkey's Prime Minister and leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, Binali Yildirim addresses crowd during "yes" campaign, prior to constitutional referendum, Turkey's Aydin province ( Murat Kaynak - Anadolu Agency )


By Enes Duran, Enes Kaplan, Sefa Sahin, Selma Kasap and Yesim Sert Karaaslan

AYDIN, Turkey

The upcoming referendum on constitutional reforms will bring an end to polarization, tension and disintegration in Turkey, according to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Monday.

Addressing a rally in western Turkey's Aydin province, Yildirim said: "Polarization, tension, disintegration will end in Turkey."

About the constitutional changes, he said: "The parliament will make the laws, supervise the government and answer questions of parliamentarians.

"We will not change the state system, the regime, but the government system. The system of the state is a republic, the republic was founded in Oct. 29, 1923, by the people.

"We founded our republic through the War of Independence, with our lives and our blood. No one can change the republic founded by Turkey."

He also said that no institution could threaten the president, the government and the parliament anymore, adding the people and the nation’s will would have the final say.

"People who say No are as much children of this nation as the ones saying Yes.

"Those who distinguish between the people who say No from the people who say Yes harm this country the most," he added.

Recalling the July 15, 2016, defeated coup, Yildirim said: "We as the [Justice and Development] AK Party government have been receiving such threats for the last 14 years. Many times they tried these plots, but the people chose us, the people authorized us. The people said: ‘Rule our country in our names’."

Next Sunday, Turkish voters will be asked to vote Yes or No to an 18-article constitutional reform bill that would shift the country from a parliamentary system of governance to a presidential one.

The constitutional changes have been discussed since Erdogan was voted president in August 2014. The 18-article bill was passed by parliament in January this year, with 339 votes in favor -- nine more than needed to put the proposal to a referendum.

The reforms would hand wide-ranging executive powers to the president and the post of prime minister would be abolished. The president would also be allowed to retain ties to a political party.

Other changes would see the minimum age for parliamentary candidates reduced to 18 and the number of deputies rise to 600. Simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections for a five-year term would be held in November 2019 under the new constitution.

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