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Referendum on expanding presidential powers begins in Turkey

April 16, 7:53 UTC+3 ANKARA

The vote began in 33 out of the country’s 81 provinces, at 7:00 Moscow time Sunday

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ANKARA, April 16. /TASS/. A referendum on constitutional amendments that expand the powers of the president and abolish the post of the prime minister began in Turkey on Sunday morning.

The vote has already began in 33 out of the country’s 81 provinces, at 7:00 Moscow time. The vote in other regions will begin an hour later. A total of 55 million registered voters will be able to cast their ballot at 145,000 polling stations throughout the day.

Security measures has stepped up on the day of the vote, with more than 250,000 police officers, 128,000 members of the Gendarmerie and 70,000 security employees and volunteers on duty across the country. They will be joined by 6,000 servicemen of the country’s Ground Forces if necessary.

Any kind of campaigning will be prohibited for the entire period of the vote.

The proposed amendments, initiated by the ruling Justice and Development Party, include the abolition of the Office of the Prime Minister. They also allow the president to continue being a member of a party, expand his legislative and executive powers, and give him the right to form the cabinet of ministers.

The amendments will, however, introduce measures of parliamentary control over the head of state’s activities.

Another important change will be increasing the number of seats in the parliament from 550 to 600 and reducing the minimum age requirement for the candidates for MPs to 18.

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