05:26 GMT25 February 2021
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    Turkey Votes for Presidential System of Government in National Referendum (72)
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    The 'Yes' vote is leading in the Turkish referendum on constitutional changes allowing for an expansion of presidential powers, according to the preliminary results, accounts for 25 percent of total votes cast.

    A picture of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is seen through Turkish national flags ahead of the constitutional referendum in Istanbul, Turkey, April 14, 2017.
    © REUTERS / Alkis Konstantinidis
    Over 63 percent of Turkish voters support the constitutional amendments, according to the Electoral Commission citing first preliminary results of the referendum.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voted in the morning in Istanbul, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Izmir, while Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu cast his vote in his home city of Antalya. Leaders of the main opposition parties, Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the Republican People's Party (CHP) and Devlet Bahceli of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), voted in Ankara.

    On January 21, the Turkish parliament approved constitutional amendments that would strengthen the presidential powers over the legislature and the judiciary. If approved in the referendum, the president will also be able to remain the head of the political party he represents, have the ability to appoint a number of top judges and declare a state of emergency, which is not allowed by the current legislation. The decision was criticized by opposition parties as a power grab attempt by the president.

    Polls closed at 13:00 GMT time in the eastern part of Turkey and an hour later elsewhere. The results of the voting from the eastern regions of Turkey, where the referendum started earlier, are expected to be announced soon.

    About 55.3 million of voters were expected to cast their votes at over 160,100 polling stations, with 460 additional ballot stations operating in prisons. Turkish citizens living abroad have voted on the constitutional amendments before the voting day.

    Security at the polling stations were maintained by 380,000 policemen. No serious violations have been registered, except for an incident in the south-eastern province of Diyarbakir, where two people were killed in a shooting near a polling station.

    The press service of pro-Kurdish Turkish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) told Sputnik that its jailed leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag were also expected to take part in the voting.

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    Turkey Votes for Presidential System of Government in National Referendum (72)

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    referendum, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey
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