Supporters of the "YES" vote wave banners with Erdogan's images as they campaign ahead of the Sunday referendum, in Istanbul, Friday, April 14, 2017. (AP Photo/ Emrah Gurel)
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In historic referendum, Turkey's Erdogan faces his biggest testMuch like the vast mosque he has commissioned atop one of Istanbul's highest hills, President Tayyip Erdogan's supporters hope a referendum Sunday will be a crowning achievement in his drive to reshape Turkey.The vote, in which millions of Turks will decide whether to replace their parliamentary democracy with an all-powerful presidency, may bring the biggest change in their system of governance since the modern Turkish republic was founded on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire almost a century ago.Erdogan assumed the presidency, then a largely ceremonial position, in 2014 after more than a decade as prime minister, and has since continued to dominate politics by force of personality, making no secret of his ambition for greater powers.Erdogan's supporters reject such charges, saying the 18 constitutional amendments being put to a simple "Yes/No" vote contain sufficient checks and balances, such as the provision that a new presidential election would be triggered should the president dissolve parliament.Erdogan has focused in recent campaign events on trying to ridicule the leader of the main secularist CHP opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, playing videos of his gaffes in the apparent hope that voter patterns will reflect the last national election in November 2015, when AKP dominated the electoral map.
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