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'Yes' Vote Leads In Crucial Turkish Referendum On Erdogan Powers: Reports

Yves Herman | Reuters

The counting of votes is underway on Sunday in a crucial referendum to give expanded powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that is set to influence the country's future dramatically, and initial results suggest that the 'Yes' vote is leading.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said that there were 57.46 percent 'yes' votes when more than half the votes were counted in Sunday's constitutional referendum.

The agency said that 51.14 percent of votes had been counted at 6.15 p.m. local time (1515GMT).

'No' votes were 42.54 percent. More than 55 million people were eligible to vote.

The 'Yes' vote would mean that Turkey's parliamentary democracy would be replaced by an all-powerful presidential system.

The constitutional change could give Erdogan, a controversial figure in both Turkish and European politics, significant powers, making him the most powerful president since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey.

'Yes' camp winning the referendum could also mean Erdogan may remain in power until 2029, raising concerns among opponents of an autocratic rule.

The former Mayor of Istanbul has been the president since 2014 and was the country's prime minister from 2003 to 2014.

Erdogan's political ambitions have also served to distance Europe from Turkey.

In July 2016, a faction of the Turkish Armed Forces attempted a coup d'état that failed. The government alleged that the coup leaders were linked to a Turkish businessman and cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the U.S.

The Turkish government has designated the Gulen movement as a terrorist organisation.

This year some European countries dismissed the claim that the Gulen movement was involved in the coup attempt.

by RTT Staff Writer

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