Republican People’s Party says irregularities in voting process require Erdogan victory be overturned; leaders set to extend nation’s state of emergency
Turkey’s main opposition party on Monday called on the electoral board to cancel the results of a referendum that greatly expanded the powers of the Turkish president, citing irregularities in the voting process.
The deputy leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Bulent Tezcan said “There is only one decision to ease the situation in the context of the law — the Supreme Election Board (YSK) should annul the election,” according to the Dogan news agency.
“The Higher Election Board has thrown a shadow on the people’s decision. They have caused the referendum’s legitimacy to be questioned,” said CHP chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
Earlier Tezcan said any decision that changes Turkey’s political system to such a vast extent should have been passed with an overwhelming endorsement.
“This is not a text of social consensus but one of social division,” Tezcan said. “There is a serious and solid problem of legitimacy that will forever be debated.”
Meanwhile Turkey was set to extend a nearly nine-month state of emergency, CNN Turk and NTV television reported.
The decision to extend the emergency, first imposed in the wake of the July 15 failed coup, was to be made at a meeting of Turkey’s top security council at the presidential palace from 1630 GMT, the reports said. Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli confirmed to A Haber television the issue would be discussed at the meeting.
With political tensions once again escalating in Turkey after a contest opponents fear will hand Erdogan one man rule, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for dialogue to seek calm.
Legislator Utku Cakirozer of the CHP told The Associated Press that his party would file objections to results at local electoral board branches, before taking their case to the Supreme Electoral Board. Cakiozer said: “At the moment this is a dubious 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.
But the head of the electoral board has rejected suggestions of fraud in the vote. One of the chief complaints made by two opposition parties was a board decision to accept as valid ballots that did not bear an official stamp.
Sadi Guven, who heads the Supreme Electoral Board, defended the decision, telling reporters Monday that it was taken to ensure that voters who were mistakenly given unstamped ballot papers would not be “victimized.” He insisted none of the ballot papers that were declared as valid was fake or fraudulently cast.
The CHP had earlier said it planned to contest the results of the landmark referendum that gave a narrow victory to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
With the opposition crying foul over alleged violations, all eyes will be on Monday’s announcement by international observers from the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and the Council of Europe who will give their initial assessment of the vote.
Turkey’s electoral board confirmed the “yes” victory in Sunday’s referendum and said the final results would be declared in 11-12 days. The state-run Anadolu Agency said the “yes” vote stood at 51.41 percent, while the “no” vote was 48.59%.
The margin fell short of the sweeping victory Erdogan had sought in the referendum. Nevertheless, it could cement his hold on power in Turkey and is expected to have a huge effect on the country’s long-term political future and its international relations.
The margin reported Sunday fell short of the sweeping victory the 63-year-old Erdogan had sought in the referendum. Nevertheless, it could cement his hold on power in Turkey for a decade and is expected to have a huge effect on the country’s long-term political future and its international relations.
“I suspect the result was narrower than what Erdogan expected,” said Howard Eissenstat, associate professor of Middle East History at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. “Erdogan has ruled with a narrow victory before. He does not see a narrow victory as anything less than a mandate. His tendency has been to not to co-opt the opposition but to crush it.”
In a bid to get back to business after the bitterly-contested campaign, Erdogan was on Monday to chair a cabinet meeting at his presidential palace, Turkish media said.
Erdogan declared that Turkey’s had made a “historic” decision and appeared standing on top of a bus in front of thousands of cheering supporters outside his Huber Palace Istanbul residence on the shores of the Bosphorus.
The EU and Germany have urged Turkish leaders to heal bitter internal divisions after the contested referendum.
“In view of the close referendum result and the far-reaching implications of the constitutional amendments, we… call on the Turkish authorities to seek the broadest possible national consensus in their implementation,” said a statement issued by European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a joint statement with Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, said “The (German) government expects that the Turkish government will now seek respectful dialogue with all political and social forces in the country, after this tough election campaign.”
Erdogan is set to rejoin his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) after the vote, a party official said.
“We will offer membership to Erdogan after April 27-28,” Mustafa Elitas, parliamentary faction chief of the AKP, which Erdogan co-founded, was quoted as saying by the private NTV television.
After being elected president in 2014, Erdogan had to severe his ties with the party under the impartiality principle of the constitution but the planned changes that passed by popular vote on Sunday would open the way for a party-affiliated president.
The 18 constitutional amendments that will come into effect after the next election, scheduled for 2019, will abolish the office of the prime minister and hand sweeping executive powers to the president.
Opponents had argued the constitutional changes would give too much power to a man who they say has shown increasingly autocratic tendencies.
The referendum campaign was highly divisive and heavily one-sided, with the “yes” side dominating the airwaves and billboards. Supporters of the “no” vote have complained of intimidation, including beatings, detentions and threats.
In an indication more strife with the EU could be in the offing, Erdogan said he would now hold talks on reinstating capital punishment, a move that would automatically end Turkey’s EU bid.