On April 16, the electorate will be asked to vote Yes or No to an 18-article reform bill that would hand wide-ranging executive powers to the president and abolish the post of prime minister.
Referring to the 1982 constitution that was passed by referendum during a period of military rule, Yildirim said: “This constitution is the 1982 model. It’s stuck on the road. It’s misfiring. The No supporters say ‘Maybe it will work if we push’. My brother, it will not work, don’t tire the nation for nothing.
“On April 16, citizens will go to ballot boxes and change this coup-produced constitution.”
Yildirim was addressing a meeting of Justice and Development (AK) Party lawmakers in the parliament in Ankara.
Although the 1982 constitution was introduced by the junta that came to power in a 1980 coup, it has been substantially changed since, including through referenda of 2007 and 2010.
The constitutional changes have been discussed since Erdogan was voted president in August 2014. The reform bill was passed by parliament in January, with 339 votes in favor -- nine more than needed to put the proposal to a referendum.
The reforms would allow the president to retain ties to a political party. The minimum age for parliamentary candidates would be reduced to 18 and the number of deputies would rise to 600. Simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections for a five-year term would be held in November 2019 under the new constitution.
Yildirim said that Turkish nationals living abroad would be able to vote at port and airport custom gates from March 27.
The Yes campaign -- backed by the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) -- will begin on Feb. 25 in Ankara, he added.