Voting in Turkey’s referendum begins in US
NEW YORKVoting began on March 1 in the U.S. on Turkey’s referendum on whether to shift to an executive presidential system, as hundreds of Turkish nationals showed up to cast their ballots in New York and in Washington D.C.
“Through this democratic exercise, they are sharing their expectations regarding developments in Turkey and their preference regarding the future of the country,” Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Serdar Kılıç told the state-run Anadolu Agency.
“I hope it will bring the best for the Turkish people and nation,” Kılıç said, stressing that all measures have been taken to ensure that voting goes smoothly.
There are more than 96,000 Turkish voters in the U.S., with more than one third living in the state of New York. Turnout in the last election was around 30 percent.
Consul General Ertan Yalçın said this figure is expected to rise in this referendum, adding that at least 300 people voted at the consulate in New York within the first three hours of voting.
Voting will continue through April 9 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. at seven Turkish missions across the U.S. The votes will then be transferred to Turkey via Turkish Airlines on April 10.
The constitutional changes addressed in the referendum, which will take place on April 16 in Turkey, would hand wide-ranging executive powers to the president, abolish the post of prime minister, and allow the president to retain ties to a political party.
Other changes would see the minimum age of parliamentary candidates reduced to 18 and the number of deputies increased to 600, while simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections for five-year terms would be held in November 2019 under the new constitution.