(Reuters) Justice and Development Party (AK Party) leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan , speaking at a meeting of his party's parliamentary group yesterday, campaigned for the approval of the constitutional amendment package that notably introduces popular vote of the president in the referendum.
"I call on all citizens to say 'yes' in the referendum," to be held on Oct. 21, he said. Arguing that many problems in Turkey will be solved when citizens vote "yes" on the referendum, Erdogan indicated that a popular vote to choose the president will be the best example of direct democracy.
"We will have a referendum on Oct. 21. The constitutional amendment package will be voted on. The amendment package will put an end to the speculations seen in every presidential election in the past. It contains important articles which I believe will be appreciated by our nation. Popular vote for the president and the possibility of the president's re-election for another five-year term will serve as good examples of direct democracy. The people's decision will be the final decision," he said.
Erdogan further stated that the groups that resist change in Turkey are doing so in vain. "Those who resist change and transformation want to estrange Turkey from the modern world. They are trying to incite tensions for their own interests and privileges. These are futile attempts," he said. The prime minister maintained that the civilian constitution should be seen as a necessary revision, adding: "We cannot ignore the fact that constitutions are political texts. As several nongovernmental organizations demanded the preparation of a draft constitution in the past, we, too, made such a demand to the academic commission. Many draft constitutions were written before us. We have made use of the previous work launched by NGOs such as the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) and the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) as well as other political parties."
The draft prepared by the academic commission led by Professor Ergun Ozbudun had been published on the Internet for public access, Erdogan noted, but the work conducted by the specialists from the AK Party has not yet finished. "The work on the new constitution is open to contribution and criticism from everyone," he added.