Turkey votes in historic constitutional

Ankara [Turkey], Apr 16 : More than 55 million Turkish citizens began voting across the country on Sunday in a historic referendum proposing key constitutional changes that would allegedly give wide-ranging executive powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Citizens are casting their ballots at 1,67,000 polling stations nationwide. Over one million of them are first-time voters who recently turned 18, reports Anadolu news agency. Inmates - except for the criminals who are convicted for intentional crime - are also allowed to vote at 463 polling stations located inside state prisons.

The electorate in Turkey is being asked to vote Yes or No to an 18-article reform bill, which would also change the current parliamentary system to a presidential one.

The Yes campaign is backed by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whereas the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) does not support it.

Erdogan was voted to power in August 2014, the first time a Turkish President had been directly chosen by popular vote.

The 18-article bill was passed by the Parliament in January with 339 votes in favor. The other major changes include lowering the age to become a lawmaker to 18 from 25, increasing the number of seats in the Parliament from 550 to 600, closing down military courts and same-day parliamentary and presidential elections after every five years.

Approximately 2.9 million Turkish expatriates have already voted in the referendum between March 27 and April 9.

The country's current Constitution was formed in 1983 following a military coup in 1980..

Source: ANI