Erdogan hails 'Yes' vote in referendum

As voting comes to an end, Turkish media outlets began reporting today (Sunday) about the initial results of the referendum vote, in which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan requested to significantly expand his power.

Mr Erdogan, who first came to power in 2003 as prime minister, had argued a "Turkish-style" presidential system would bring stability and prosperity to the country.

Closely watched on Monday will be the initial assessment of the worldwide observer mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

"On April 17, we have woken up to a new Turkey", wrote the pro-government Hurriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi. The state-run Anadolu Agency said the "yes" side stood at 51.4 percent of the vote, while the "no" vote saw 48.6 percent support.

A Greek Cypriot official says that irrespective of the outcome of Turkey's referendum on expanding presidential powers, the Cyprus government is hopeful that Turkey will "positively and effectively" contribute to ongoing talks aimed at reunifying the ethnically divided island.

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party has called on the country's electoral board to cancel Sunday's referendum that approved a proposal to grant sweeping powers to the nation's president.

A leading German lawmaker has called on Turkish immigrants to show more commitment to Germany's democratic values after a clear majority of the 1.4 million Turkish immigrants who were eligible to vote in the Turkish referendum cast their ballot in favor of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A statement on the High Electoral Board's website hours before polls closed said it would count ballots that had not been stamped by officials as valid unless they could be proved fraudulent.

He also said the decision of the YSK election board to accept unstamped ballots was clearly against the law.

Kilicdaroglu said he respects the vote of the people but the electoral commission has tarnished the vote.

European governments acknowledged the result but bristled at a suggestion by Erdogan that he would seek the restoration of the death penalty - a move that would sink Turkey's long-stalled bid to join the European Union.

But the opposition were not content to rest on their better-than-expected performance despite a lopsided campaign in which the "Yes" camp enjoyed vastly greater resources and dominated the airwaves.

However, the head of the country's electoral board, Guven reiterated that ballot papers without stamps on them were also used in past elections. Supporters of the "no" vote have complained of intimidation, including beatings, detentions and threats.

Cakirozer said: "At the moment this is a dubious vote".

The HDP said there were indications of a manipulation amounting to three or four percentage points while deputy CHP leader Erdal Aksunger said up to 60 percent of the ballot boxes could be appealed.

In Istanbul, hundreds of demonstrators opposed to the amendments marched in a central neighborhood late Sunday, clanging pots and pans.

The Sozcu newspaper, one of a few newspapers critical of Erdogan's government, referred to the alleged irregularities and asked in its headline: "Is your conscience at ease?"

  • Leroy Wright