Europe

Campaigning for Turkey referendum hits final stretch

  • A man walks and another sits on a bench at Taksim square ahead of the upcoming referendum, at Taksim square in Istanbul, Friday, April 14, 2017. Turkey is heading to an April 16 contentious referendum on constitutional reforms to expand Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

    A man walks and another sits on a bench at Taksim square ahead of the upcoming referendum, at Taksim square in Istanbul, Friday, April 14, 2017. Turkey is heading to an April 16 contentious referendum on constitutional reforms to expand Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)  (The Associated Press)

  • Musicians from a Latin American band perform at the Taksim square with a giant poster of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the background, ahead of the upcoming referendum, at Taksim square in Istanbul, Friday, April 14, 2017. Turkey is heading to an April 16 contentious referendum on constitutional reforms to expand Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

    Musicians from a Latin American band perform at the Taksim square with a giant poster of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the background, ahead of the upcoming referendum, at Taksim square in Istanbul, Friday, April 14, 2017. Turkey is heading to an April 16 contentious referendum on constitutional reforms to expand Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)  (The Associated Press)

  • Supporters hold a placard that reads "Yes God willing" as they listen to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a last referendum rally in Istanbul's Umraniye district, Saturday, April 15, 2017. Campaigning for Turkey's crucial referendum on whether to expand presidential powers has entered its final stretch, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing flag-waving supporters in an Istanbul neighborhood to drum up support for his "yes" campaign.(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

    Supporters hold a placard that reads "Yes God willing" as they listen to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a last referendum rally in Istanbul's Umraniye district, Saturday, April 15, 2017. Campaigning for Turkey's crucial referendum on whether to expand presidential powers has entered its final stretch, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing flag-waving supporters in an Istanbul neighborhood to drum up support for his "yes" campaign.(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)  (The Associated Press)

Campaigning for Turkey's crucial referendum on whether to expand presidential powers has entered its final stretch, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing flag-waving supporters in an Istanbul neighborhood to drum up support for his "yes" campaign.

Erdogan has long championed the idea of changing Turkey's system of government from parliamentary to presidential. He is calling on his countrymen to vote on Sunday to approve constitutional changes that would abolish the office of the prime minister, handing all executive power to the president. The change, he says, will bring much-needed stability to Turkey.

But critics argue Erdogan, in power as prime minister or president since 2003, is becoming increasingly autocratic and fear the changes will simply cement his hold on power in a system that will have few checks and balances.