Opponents Challenge Erdogan’s Slim Victory

Opponents Challenge Erdogan’s Slim VictoryOpponents Challenge Erdogan’s Slim Victory

Opponents of Turkey›s controversial referendum to expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to challenge the result on Sunday, after he claimed victory for the «Yes» vote by the slimmest of margins.

As «No» supporters vented their anger, thousands of jubilant supporters of the ruling AKP party filled the streets of the capital, Ankara, beating drums and singing victory songs in Erdogan›s name, CNN reported.

With nearly all of the 47.5 million votes counted, state media reported that 51.4% had voted in favor versus 48.6% against, revealing deep divisions within the country over its future rule.

Voters were asked to endorse an 18-article reform package put forward by the ruling Justice and Development Party that would replace the current system of parliamentary democracy with a powerful executive presidency.

Alongside claims of voting irregularities, the «No» campaign said they faced intimidation and threats of violence, and independent monitors say that state media slanted coverage in favor of the president.

Opponents of the referendum result are expected to take to the streets across the country on Monday to protest the result. The Republican People›s Party (CHP) questioned the legitimacy of the results, saying the country›s electoral authority had decided to «change the rules in the middle of the game».

The High Electoral Board initially said it would not accept ballots that were missing ballot commission stamps, but changed course after voting was underway, saying it would accept unstamped ballots «unless they are proven to have been brought from outside».

The opposition said this would affect the legitimacy of the vote and called for a partial recount of about 37% of the votes, said Erdal Aksunger of the CHP. He left the door open to challenging a higher percentage of the ballots.

«The official results will arrive in about 10 days, after any objections have been considered,» Supreme Electoral Council President Sadi Guven said.

The changes limit any one president to two terms, although under certain circumstances they could seek a third. The revision means Erdogan could potentially serve until 2029, if he contests and wins the next two elections in 2019 and 2024.

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