Speaking at an opening ceremony for infrastructure projects in southeastern Gaziantep province, Erdogan said the new changes will make Turkish democracy better and stronger.
“April 16 will be a rebirth. I hope this will be a new resurrection, [and] it will be a sign of revival. We will receive the outcome that would be shameful for those who do not trust you and those who don’t believe in you,” he said.
Constitutional reforms have been under discussion officially since Erdogan was elected president in August 2014.
The proposals aim to hand wide-ranging executive powers to the president and abolish the post of prime minister. The president would also be allowed to retain ties to a political party.
Erdogan again slammed opposition parties for criticizing the upcoming constitutional changes. “Unwary people, who are opposed to the presidential system, always say something, but they always say it is wrong [and], unfortunately, what they say is a lie,” he said.
Two opposition parties -- the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) -- are opposed to the constitutional changes while the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party is supporting it along with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
About the opposition parties’ criticism, he said: “They are saying the Turkish parliament is going to be suppressed, shamelessly.” However, he reiterated the Turkish parliament would in fact become stronger with the new system, which he called both “presidential system” and “presidential government system”.
“No one has the right to block change, [and] regeneration,” he said.
Referring to recent terrorist attacks in Turkey, he said: “Turkey needs strong governance while it passes through its fragile era.
“We have to change the system to come to a conclusion for our fight against terrorism, [we have to change to the new system] for the success of our fight in the region and to reach our 2023 targets.”
Erdogan kicked off the Yes campaign on Friday after the official referendum schedule was announced by the Supreme Election Board. The campaign began in southern Kahramanmaras, one of the areas that gave him the most votes in the 2014 presidential polls.
The reforms would remove parliament’s power to question ministers or to stage a vote of confidence on the government. The minimum age for parliamentary candidates would be reduced to 18 and the number of deputies will rise to 600.
Simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections for a five-year term would be held in November 2019 under the new constitution.
Turkish nationals overseas will be able to vote in the referendum between March 27 and April 9 at polling stations in embassies and consulates as well as at Turkish ports and airports. These votes will be tallied in Turkey on referendum night.
The political parties can campaign until 6 p.m. on April 15.
The bill of constitutional changes was passed by parliament in January, with 339 votes in favor -- nine more than needed to put the proposals to a referendum.