Europe

Turkish PM launches 'yes' campaign over Erdogan powers

  • Turkey's Prime Minister and the leader of ruling Justice and Development Party Binali Yildirim, center, and his wife Semiha Yildirim, left, arrive to attend a party meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. Binali Yildirim has officially launched his ruling party's campaign for a "yes" vote in a referendum on ushering a presidential system, which critics fear will concentrate too many powers in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AP Photo)

    Turkey's Prime Minister and the leader of ruling Justice and Development Party Binali Yildirim, center, and his wife Semiha Yildirim, left, arrive to attend a party meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. Binali Yildirim has officially launched his ruling party's campaign for a "yes" vote in a referendum on ushering a presidential system, which critics fear will concentrate too many powers in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AP Photo)  (The Associated Press)

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Manisa, Turkey, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Erdogan says Turkey could hold a referendum on the issue of reinstating the death penalty, if parliament fails to pass such a measure. Erdogan made the comment on Friday while campaigning for a "yes" vote in a referendum on whether to expand his powers.(Presidential Press Service, Pool via AP)

    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Manisa, Turkey, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Erdogan says Turkey could hold a referendum on the issue of reinstating the death penalty, if parliament fails to pass such a measure. Erdogan made the comment on Friday while campaigning for a "yes" vote in a referendum on whether to expand his powers.(Presidential Press Service, Pool via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Turkey's prime minister has officially launched his ruling party's campaign for a "yes" vote in a referendum on ushering a presidential system, which critics fear will concentrate too many powers in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Binali Yildirim formally got campaigning going on Saturday telling supporters in a sports arena that the proposed new system would build a strong Turkey capable of surmounting terror threats and make its economy more robust.

Yildirim said: "We are taking the first steps on the path of a future strong Turkey."

The proposed reforms — to be voted on April 16 — will give the largely ceremonial presidency executive powers and abolish the office of the prime minister.

Opponents say the proposed system foresees too few checks and balances on Erdogan's rule.