Polls close in historic Turkey constitutional referendum

Within hours after the counting of the votes, HDP and CHP alleged that actions of the country's High Election Council call into question the legitimacy of the referendum result.

Returns carried by the state-run Anadolu news agency showed that with almost 99 percent of the vote counted, the "yes" vote had about 51.3 percent compared to 48.7 percent for the "no" vote.

The vote introduces a raft of constitutional changes that mean Turkey's parliamentary democracy can be replaced with an executive presidency.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory Sunday night after a majority of Turkish voters appeared to have granted the president sweeping new powers.

Although the Yes vote pulled ahead and the constitutional amendments passed, many in the opposition camp and its supporters are taking solace in the narrow margin of victory and the fact that Turkey's capital along with its biggest city (and Erdogan's hometown) both rejected the government's agenda. Mr Yildirim spoke on the balcony of his governing AK Party headquarters in Ankara, addressing a crowd of about 3,000 people who waved flags and chanted the name of the country's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Be that as it may, restriction supporters in hostile to Erdogan regions of Istanbul demonstrated their disappointment by bashing pots and dish with kitchen utensils to make a boisterous challenge.

Meanwhile, flag-waving supporters of Mr Erdogan celebrated as their president praised them for their "historic decision" that could keep him in office until 2029.

With 99 percent of the ballots counted, official Turkish media placed the "yes" vote at more than 51 percent, and the "no" vote at just under 49 percent.

Under the changes, after the next elections due in 2019, the Prime Minister and Cabinet will be abolished and Ministers will be directly appointed by the President and accountable to him.

"Turkey for the first time in its history has decided with the will of the parliament and its people on such an important change", he said. CHP vice chairman Erdal Aksunger said they would challenge 37 percent of the ballot boxes.

Preparations for the Turkish referendum and electoral campaigns among the diaspora population led to political tension between Turkey and European Union member states during the past months as "Yes" campaign events were canceled and Turkish ministers were prevented from speaking to supporters in Europe.

(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel). Supporters of the "Yes" vote celebrate in Istanbul, on Sunday, April 16, 2017.

The new presidential system takes effect at the next election, now slated for 2019.

Erdogan has long sought to broaden his powers, but a previous attempt failed after the governing party that he co-founded fell short of enough votes to pass the reforms without holding a referendum. Mr Erdogan sparred bitterly with European governments who banned rallies by his ministers in their countries during the referendum campaign.

Opponents had argued the constitutional changes give too much power to a man who they say has shown increasingly autocratic tendencies.

Accordingly, the parliamentary and presidential elections will be held on the same day every five years.

What has Erdogan said about the result? .

  • Zachary Reyes