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Turkey Bitterly Split as Erdogan’s “Yes Vote” Will Change Democracy Towards Dictatorship



A supporter of the “yes” brandishes a picture of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

ANKARA – The Unofficial results from Turkey’s April 16 constitutional referendum show that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has won the right to expand presidential power.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “yes” campaign has won 51.37% of the votes while “no” has secured 48.63%, with 99.45% of ballots counted. The electoral board has declared a victory for the former but the country’s two main opposition parties are challenging the results, demanding a recount of 60% of the votes. Official results are expected in 11 to 12 days.

The opposition is contesting the result and Erdoğan’s first speech shows he is concerned that the international community may not accept the results as legitimate.

According to CNN, International election monitors have delivered a scathing verdict on the conduct of Turkey’s controversial referendum to grant expansive new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Representatives from a coalition of international bodies said the referendum took place on an “unlevel playing field” with the “yes” campaign dominating media coverage.
Voters were not provided with adequate information, opposition voices were muzzled and the rules were changed at the last minute, they said.
“The legal framework remained inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic referendum,” the monitors’ initial report stated.
The international monitors a partnership of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council for Europe — will deliver their final report in eight weeks. Opposition groups have vowed to challenge the outcome, as results indicated the narrowest of victories for the “yes” campaign.
Despite a state of emergency and a widespread crackdown on dissent, Erdogan succeeded in persuading only 51.4% of voters to back his constitutional upheaval.
The three biggest cities in Turkey — Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir — rejected the plans, which would abolish Turkey’s system of parliamentary democracy and replace it with an executive presidency with sweeping, largely unchecked powers.
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.
 The results cement a years-long effort by Erdogan to consolidate his position. After serving as prime minister for nearly a decade, he took over as president in 2014 and through force of personality turned a largely ceremonial role into a de facto head of government.

A failed coup last year allowed him to turn up the heat on opposition voices in the run-up to Sunday’s referendum. The “no” campaign said it faced intimidation and threats of violence, while opposition figures and journalists were jailed. The narrowness of the result, coupled with allegations of irregularities, sets the scene for further instability.
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