By Ilkay Guder
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's prime minister said Thursday that political parties are preparing to hold referendum campaigns over the proposed changes to Turkey’s constitution.
Binali Yildirim said after completion of the ongoing second round of voting in parliament over the constitutional reform package, parties would campaign to promote 'yes' or 'no' votes for the upcoming referendum -- likely to be held in early April.
Speaking to journalists in Ankara, Yildirim said his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) would push for a 'yes' vote across the country.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) -- which remain opposed to the proposed changes -- will start political campaigns against the constitutional change, he said.
"The division in these campaigns will not turn into a social polarization and hostility," Yildirim said.
He stressed that all the debates and talks over the constitutional reform were carried out within "democratic boundaries."
The constitutional change will bring "a fundamental change in the system of government," the prime minister said.
"Turkey's fight against terrorism will gain more strength with this change in the medium and long term, which will bring in stability and a strong government."
The country's parliament late on Wednesday adopted articles 1-7 of the constitutional reform package in the second round of voting which came after almost three weeks of debates in parliament.
The first round of voting was completed with the parliament passing a total of 18 articles -- each with over 340 yes votes.
Lawmakers are going to the polls again to vote on each article for a second time and on the entire package. Voting on the remaining 11 amendments will continue late on Thursday and Friday.
If the entire package goes through the parliament with votes of at least 330 of 550 deputies, the new articles will be put to vote in a national referendum.
AK Party has 316 seats and MHP -- which has so far supported the constitutional change -- has 39 seats.
The 'Yes' votes from the two parties would be enough to secure a referendum, which would require a simple majority of 51 percent for the constitutional change.