Opposition to challenge votes on expanding Erdogan's powers

Gabriel said the European Union would first wait for the opinion of worldwide observers of Turkey's referendum, adding that "We will be able to assist Turkey in its economic development only if it remains a democracy" and not if it reintroduces the death penalty.

Following the release of the unofficial result of a referendum on constitutional changes, thousands of revelers took to the streets across Turkey to celebrate the victory by the "Yes" win.

Turkey voted "yes" in Sunday's referendum on a series of constitutional reforms.

Opposition parties have argued that the changes, which come into effect after the 2019 presidential election, give too much power to the office.

Official results from the Supreme Election Council, the YSK, were expected to come on Monday morning. "The result will depend on how far the opposition will take their claim of irregularity in the voting, and what the global reaction will be".

The president will also play a legislative role through presidential decrees and exercise a veto power over the decisions of the parliament except for those backed by a two-thirds majority, which is not common in democratic parliaments.

The Republican People's Party (CHP) questioned the legitimacy of the result, saying the country's electoral authority had chose to "change the rules in the middle of the game".

But many also fear that the new system will endanger democracy in Turkey - a key US ally and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who delivered a speech to a crowd in an Istanbul neighbourhood, has long championed the idea of changing Turkey's system of government from parliamentary to presidential.

Erdogan has dominated Turkish politics since becoming prime minister in 2003, serving in that post until 2014 when he was elected president.

The overall result is a narrow victory for Mr Erdogan - one small enough to be disputed by his opponents. Supporters of the "no" vote complained of intimidation, including beatings, detentions and threats.

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.

Meanwhile, Turkey's relations with Europe have been increasingly tense, particularly after Erdogan branded Germany and the Netherlands as Nazis for not allowing Turkish ministers to campaign for the "yes" vote among expatriate Turks.

About 100,000 people - including judges, teachers, academics, doctors, journalists, military officials and police - have lost their jobs in the crackdown, and more than 40,000 have been arrested.

Suzan Fraser contributed from Ankara, Turkey.

More than 86 percent of 55 million Turkish electorates, including 1.3 million voters overseas, cast vote on Sunday. Following the attempted military coup in July 2016, Turkey has been under a state of emergency that has been strongly criticized by foreign leaders as heading down the path towards a dictatorship. "Political discussions about that need to take place as quickly as possible, both at the bilateral level and between the European institutions and Turkey", Merkel and Gabriel said.

  • Leroy Wright