Turkey detains 49 IS suspects said to be planning attacks

Turkey is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member helping fight ISIS.

Turkish voters will decide Sunday whether to endorse President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's attempt to centralize power in his hands in the most radical shake-up since the republic was formed 93 years ago. Polls released late in the campaign showed a narrow lead for "yes", with a large number still declaring themselves undecided.

The referendum will take place under a state of emergency that has been in place since last summer's failed coup, which has seen some 47,000 arrested in the biggest crackdown in Turkey's history.

Conversely, the government's stranglehold on media and public campaigning, as well as its exploitation of the current state of emergency may be enough to push Yes across the line in the event of a close contest. Government officials dismiss this concern, noting that France is holding elections this spring while under a state of emergency following terrorist attacks in Paris.

"This constitutional change will bring stability and trust that is needed for our county's development, growth and stability", Erdogan told supporters at the rally. They note that Turkey has had 64 governments since the 1920s, rivaling Italy for instability.

Sunday's referendum is likely to be decided by people who will not make up their minds until they reach the ballot box.

"All the world wants "no" to win, so the people around me say that we have to say 'yes, '" said Nebahat Toraman, 43, another worker.

At a rally in Istanbul, one of four he held in the last hours before Sunday's vote, Erdogan described the constitutional proposals as the biggest change in Turkey since the country was established almost a century ago, and the culmination of the response to July's abortive putsch. That "unduly invests the weight of the decisions and the power of the executive on the president". He'd also appoint most top judges, and the prime minister's post would disappear. Experienced leaders in the political system indicated that systemic crises threatened, not only the governability, but also the democracy of the country, as deadlocks usually provided weak spots for institutions outside the political realm to have leverage over the national will.


The current setup requires the president to be nonpartisan.

He described the new system as "a bus with no brakes and whose destination is unknown".

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who delivered a speech to a crowd in Istanbul's Tuzla neighbourhood today, has long championed the changing of Turkey's system of government from parliamentary to presidential.

In fact, a Yes vote is only likely to intensify the frustrations driving that instability, and entrench Mr Erdogan's reliance on the tools of repression that increasingly characterise his rule. Under the new powers, the president could pass decrees with the force of law independently of parliament.

He's been setting the stage for this vote since winning the presidency in 2014 and turning what was a largely ceremonial office into a nexus of authority.

If the referendum is approved, the Parliament would have reduced oversight powers.

Enable the president to run in two five-year election cycles, and a third with parliamentary backing. However, critics say it would mean a further slide into authoritarianism.

What happens after the vote?

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