Erdoğan launches ‘yes’ campaign for charter change referendum

Erdoğan launches ‘yes’ campaign for charter change referendum

Erdoğan launches ‘yes’ campaign for charter change referendum

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on citizens to say “yes” in the upcoming referendum for a major constitution amendment, effectively launching the campaign for a shift that would usher in a strong executive system that would grant him vastly enhanced powers.

“I, myself, our prime minister and ministers will explain all of this,” Erdoğan said, while delivering a speech during the opening of a city hospital in the Mediterranean province of Mersin on Feb. 3, signaling that he would take an active role in the campaign. 

“We will make the age for candidacy 18,” he said, asking the crowd if they were ready for the change offered in the draft. 

“We will increase the number of deputies to 600 [from the current 550]. Are we ready?” he asked. 

The crowd informed the president that they, too, were ready.

The president repeated a goal to make the country one of the top 10 economies of the world until 2023, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of modern Turkey, 

“The parliament said ‘yes’ for this, and now the nation is saying ‘yes,’” he said, linking the goals to a shift in the system. 

The president also praised recently completed large infrastructure projects, including the Marmaray rail road under the Boshporus, the Eurasia Tunnel under the Boshporus and two major bridges. 

“Some people only talk but we do the work,” he said. 

Referring to the newly opened hospital, the president said, “You will remember that you are humans here.” 

Erdoğan also referred to the health system offered by former U.S. President Barack Obama, known as Obamacare. 

“Obama wanted to introduce a smaller version of our health system, but could not manage it. We have succeeded,” he said, 

The hospital, which sits on a 235,000-square-meter area and will offer jobs to 5,000, marks the start of a new period for the country, Erdroğan said. 

City hospitals are part of a government drive to construct large facilities in many provinces across the country. 

Citizens should vote “yes” in the constitution amendment referendum for the continuation of such investments, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said before making way for the president. 

The amendments do not aim at a regime change, the prime minister said, calling on the opposition to “change their minds.” 

“Look where the world is heading to and where you have been left. There is no regime change,” he said.

“Those who resist change will become extinct,” the prime minister said.