Binali Yıldırım to hold rally in Nicosia sports stadium ahead of April’s executive presidency referendum
Turkey’s prime minister Binali Yıldırım will visit North Cyprus on Thursday as part of his efforts to a secure a Yes vote in next month’s constitutional referendum.
Mr Yıldırım is due to speak at the Ataturk Sports Stadium in Nicosia at 7.30pm on 9 March, roughly four weeks before Turkish citizens living in North Cyprus will have the opportunity to vote.
Voters in Turkey go to the polls on 16 April. Expatriate voting is expecting to be a critical factor in the referendum, with polls indicating there is little to separate domestic voters between the Yes and No camps.
With the announcement of Mr Yıldırım’s arrival, posters have sprung up around the city bearing the slogan “The Prime Minister is Coming, Cyprus says Yes”.
Deputy prime minister Tuğrul Türkeş is already in North Cyprus and will spend up to four days campaigning in the country, the local Kıbrıs Postası newspaper said.
There were around 95,000 registered expatriates living in North Cyprus ahead of the last Turkish general election on 1 November, although only 34.18% turned out to vote at the ballot boxes set up at the Turkish Embassy there.
It was a lower participation level than other European countries, where turnout was generally between 40 and 50%.
New powers for president
A referendum on proposals to grant sweeping new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be held in Turkey on Sunday 16 April.
Abdurrahman Bilgiç, Turkey’s ambassador to the UK, said in an interview with Haber newspaper this week that registered Turkish expatriates in the UK will most likely be able to vote over a four-day period the previous week, between 6-9 April.
The venue and precise timings for UK voting have yet to be finalised.