ISTANBUL — Turks voted Sunday on whether to amend a military-era constitution in what the government said is a key step in Turkey's path to full democracy, despite opposition claims that the proposed reforms would shackle the independence of the courts.
The referendum on 26 amendments to a constitution that was crafted after a 1980 military coup has become a battleground between the Islamic-oriented government and traditional power elites that believe Turkey's secular principles are under threat. The outcome will set the stage for elections next year in a strategically-located NATO ally whose regional clout has surged in recent years.
Street clashes marred voting at several polling stations in provinces with large Kurdish populations. A Kurdish party has urged supporters to boycott the ballot, arguing that the proposed changes would not advance the rights of the ethnic minority.