A man stays next to giant poster of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a rally in support of the Turkish President in Istanbul on Sunday. Photo:AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Absentee voting for Turkish citizens living in several western European countries on the referendum for constitutional changes that is seen as increasing presidential powers begins on Monday, while Turks in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq can begin voting on April 8.
Ballot boxes will be available cross several cities in Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Denmark beginning on Monday. They will remain open until April 9.
About 1.55 million people in Germany hold Turkish citizenship, according to the German government.
Turkish citizens in the Kurdistan Region can vote from April 8 to April 9 at the consulate general in Erbil, while the embassy in Baghdad will have the same schedule.
There are around 3 million Turks living abroad in 57 countries who can vote in the referendum, according to Anadolu Agency.
Polling data conducted by the Turkish NET polling firm last week shows that the nearly 55 percent of registered voters would say “No” to the referendum.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech on Thursday: “The Yes vote keeps increasing and is felt day by day.”
On April 16, tens of millions of eligible voters in Turkey are expected to go to the ballot box to vote on constitutional reforms. The amendments include the introduction of an executive presidency that would replace the existing parliamentary presidency of government, the abolition of the office of the prime minister, the raising of the number of seats in Parliament from 550 to 600, and changes in the supreme board of judges and prosecutors (HSYK).
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition Nationalist Movements (MHP) helped ratify the new draft constitution in the parliament last September with 339 votes for, 9 votes more than needed to put the draft to public vote.
Critics say the amendment will lead the country towards authoritarianism as the president of the republic will have constitutional powers to appoint and remove cabinet ministers. Supporters of the amendments say the changes will lead to stronger political and financial stability without endangering the democratic institutions in the country.