Polling stations in the Netherlands open today for Dutch-Turks to vote in a Turkish referendum that, if successful, would give Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan more power. About 249 thousand Dutch-Turks can vote in the referendum from today until Sunday, RTL Nieuws reports.
People with a Turkish passport in other European countries already voted. Turkey itself will go to the polls on April 16th.
If a majority of Turks vote ‘yes’ in the referendum, Erdogan will get more power. Currently in Turkey the Prime Minister is in charge of the government and the president is a ceremonial figure. Erdogan wants to change that. A new legislative proposal, which the referendum is voting on, will keep Erdogan longer in the president’s office, will change the Turkish system to a presidential system – without a Prime Minister, and will give Erdogan the power to appoint ministers and judges.
The run-up to the referendum was anything but smooth, and campaigning for it led to conflict between Turkey and some EU countries, including the Netherlands. Turkish ministers wanted to hold campaign rallies in Rotterdam, but were refused. Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu’s plane was refused permission to land in the Netherlands. And when a different minister arrived at the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam by car and was sent away, riots broke out.
Turkey accused the Netherlands of Nazism and fascism and announced a set of sanctions against the Netherlands. These are not economic sanctions, as the Netherlands is one of Turkey’s main investors. But Turkey did suspend talks with the Dutch government and the Dutch ambassador is no longer welcome in Turkey