- Title: A look at Turkey's Erdogan ahead of referendum vote
- Date: 6th April 2017
- Summary: EU AGREES TO TURKEY ENTRY TALKS BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (FILE - DECEMBER 17, 2004) (REUTERS) EU AND TURKISH FLAG
- Embargoed: 20th April 2017 19:24
- Keywords: Turkey Tayyip Erdogan referendum Fethullah Gulen coup
- Location: SEE SCRIPT BODY FOR LOCATIONS
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- Country: Turkey
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0096BAD6IV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 on replacing its parliamentary system with the stronger presidency long sought by incumbent Tayyip Erdogan.
The proposed constitutional reform would mark one of the biggest changes in the European Union candidate country's system of governance since the modern republic was founded on the ashes of the Ottoman empire almost a century ago.
Erdogan assumed the presidency, currently a largely ceremonial position, in 2014 after more than a decade as prime minister with the AKP, which he co-founded. Since then, pushing his powers to the limit, he has continued to dominate politics by dint of his personal popularity and forceful personality.
Critics accuse him of increasing authoritarianism with the arrests and dismissal of tens of thousands of judges, police, military officers, journalists and academics since a failed military coup in July 2016.
Erdogan has led a crackdown on people suspected of involvement with the movement led by exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, which he blames for last year's failed coup.
With the constitutional overhaul, the president will be able to retain ties to a political party, potentially allowing Erdogan to resume his leadership of the AKP, a move that opposition parties say would wreck any chance of impartiality.
But, Erdogan's supporters see the plans as a guarantee of stability at a time of turmoil, with Turkey's security threatened by the wars in neighboring Syria and Iraq, and by a spate of Islamic State and Kurdish militant attacks.
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