Turkey referendum: Erdogan declares victory

The three say the constitutional amendments and their enactment "will be assessed in light of Turkey's obligations as a European Union candidate country and as a member of the Council of Europe". "Turkey is a tough country to rule", said Kamran Bokhari, a senior fellow with the Center for Global Policy and analyst with Geopolitical Futures. Since being elected president two years ago, Erdogan has been ruling the country in a manner that contrasts Turkish law. His staff handed out toys for children in the crowd.

The turnout was said to be as high as 85 per cent. The "Yes" percentage of the vote - which stood at 63 percent after around one quarter had been opened - eased as the count came further west towards Istanbul and the Aegean coast.

The deputy head of the Republican People's Party (CHP), Bulent Tezcan, denounced "violations" by the election authorities while another CHP deputy head, Erdal Aksunger, said it could appeal up to 60 percent of the vote.

"We will pursue a legal battle".

Turkey's referendum campaign was conducted on an "unlevel playing field" and the vote count itself was marred by late procedural changes that removed key safeguards, worldwide observers said on Monday.

"This is our opportunity to take back control of our country", said self-employed Bayram Seker, 42, after voting "Yes" in Istanbul. "So I think it's been very clear that elections are not on the agenda".

"Erdogan and his team are manipulating the results and the YSK is part of this crime".

Opponents fear it risks granting Erdogan authoritarian powers and allow him to ride roughshod over key institutions like the judiciary and parliament. The OSCE cannot sanction Turkey for its conduct of the vote but it can suggest recommendations. "This would weaken our democracy", said Hamit Yaz, 34, a ship's captain, after voting in Istanbul.

In Ankara, thousands of revelers honked their horns and waved Turkish flags along with white flags saying, "Evet" - Turkish for yes - at the headquarters of the political party founded by Erdogan.

CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said: "We respect the nation's will but the decision on unsealed ballots overshadowed it".

They said Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants staged the attack in Van's Muradiye district. According to Kosachev, in case tensions between Turkey and PACE rise, then the Council of Europe may lose one of its major contributors, adding to the organization's difficulties against the background of the unsettled issue of the Russian delegation's status.

At a polling station in the southeast, two people were shot dead.

Although the margin fell short of the sweeping victory Mr Erdogan had sought in the landmark referendum, it could nevertheless cement his hold on power in Turkey.

Edogan became president in 2014 after serving as prime minister for more than a decade.

The U.S. State Department on Monday "encouraged voters and parties on both sides to focus on working together for Turkey's future", while calling on the government to protect rights and freedoms "regardless of their vote on April 16".

The new system would dispense with the office of prime minister and centralise the entire executive bureaucracy under the president, giving Erdogan the direct power to appoint ministers.

  • Leroy Wright