Referendum boosts power of Turkey prez

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on Monday commending a tight win in a choice giving him clearing new powers that uncovered intense divisions in Turkey and left enraged adversaries requesting a noteworthy describe.

In the run up to Sunday's vote, Erdogan suggested that Turkey may reevaluate its relations with the European Union if the constitutional amendments passed.

Most of the changes won't take effect until after the next presidential and parliamentary elections, slated for November 3, 2019.

Erdogan, who first came to power in 2003 as prime minister, had argued a "Turkish-style" presidential system would bring stability and prosperity to a country rattled by a failed coup previous year that left more than 200 people dead, and a series of devastating attacks by the Islamic State group and Kurdish militants.

Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast and its three main cities, including the capital Ankara and the largest city Istanbul, looked set to vote "No" after a bitter and divisive campaign, reported Reuters.

Speaking to Al Jazeera outside the AK Party headquarters in Istanbul, Erdal Erdinc Durucu, 37, said Erdogan has started a new age for Turkey, and ended another.

The Kommersant newspaper said: "Turkish people supports constitutional change", referring to the data of Anadolu Agency.

Protesters banged pots and pans and demonstrated in and around Kadikoy and Besiktas, on both sides of the Bosphorus, some calling Erdogan a "thief" and a "murderer" while others called for his resignation. Hundreds likewise rioted in the zones of Besiktas and Kadikoy.

The leader of the opposition and the Republican Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said he is willing to appeal 60% of the vote.

The country's pro-Kurdish party said it may take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if the electoral board does not reverse its decision and nullify the ballots lacking the official stamps.

The poll is also taking place under a state of emergency that has seen 47,000 people arrested in an unprecedented crackdown after the failed putsch of July previous year. The European Commission said Turkey should seek a broad national consensus on constitutional amendments. With more than 99% of ballots counted, "Yes" was on 51.35% and "No" on 48.65%.

The result gives the president to be elected in 2019 new powers to appoint vice-presidents, ministers, high-level officials, and senior judges.

Western reactions to the referendum will be crucial after Erdogan accused Turkey s allies of failing to show sufficient solidarity in the wake of the failed coup.

The referendum has bitterly divided the nation.

"I voted "No" because I don't want this whole country and its legislative, executive and judiciary ruled by one man", said Hamit Yaz, 34, a ship's captain, after voting in Istanbul.

In Istanbul, accountant Mete Cetinkaya said he was anxious about his country's future.

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

  • Leroy Wright