Draft amendment sent to Erdoğan, referendum expected for mid-April

Draft amendment sent to Erdoğan, referendum expected for mid-April

Nuray Babacan / Gizem Karakış – ANKARA
Draft amendment sent to Erdoğan, referendum expected for mid-April

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Parliament late on Feb. 3 sent the draft charter amendment to the president’s office for approval, with a referendum on introducing major political system changes to Turkey likely to take place on April 16. 

Two weeks after it was approved by parliament, the 18-article constitution amendment package was handed to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who now has two weeks to pass the draft and hit the green light for the campaign period. 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the president’s office have also mapped out a common strategy that will be pursued in the referendum campaign.

Both the AKP and the presidency have selected and assigned representatives who will take part in the joint campaign team, which will include four AKP members and four members from the president’s office. 

EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik, AKP Deputy Chair Cevdet Yılmaz, MP Mahir Ünal and MP Mücahit Arslan will take part from the AKP wing, while Erdoğan’s chief advisors Mehmet Uçum, Şükrü Karatepe, Yiğit Bulut and Özlem Zengin will take part from the president’s office wing.  

While the chief coordinator of the team of eight will be Cevdet Yılmaz, the group will be assisted by a professional campaign company. 

According to the plan, the “yes” campaign will concentrate on three issues in particular: Security, the economy, and unemployment. The team also aims to target still undecided voters, the number of whom is thought to be high according to polls. 

The slogan of the campaign is likely to be “Our decision is yes.”

Meanwhile, in strategy meetings the issue of the unofficial campaign to promote a “yes” vote, kicked off by a number of famous sportspeople and celebrities, was criticized by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım after a number of university rectors, district governors and state officials also joined in. 

“What they did was meddlesome. They should not have made this issue a tool for the media,” Yıldırım reportedly said.

He also warned party members to avoid using “aggressive language” during the campaign period. “We will not use not aggressive language, but simple language ... Carry out a moderate, non-polarizing approach,” he said.

The “yes” wing plans to hit the campaign trail some 45 days in advance of the planned voting date and to carry out rallies in around 40 provinces.