Turkish Opposition Plans Challenge to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Referendum Victory

from The Wall Street Journal,

International observers say vote contravened Turkish law.

International observers said a closely-contested vote on Turkey’s presidential powers contravened Turkish law, while political rivals of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were preparing to file formal objections to the results. Mr. Erdogan and his supporters described the preliminary totals from Sunday’s referendum, giving him a narrow victory, as the will of the people. Should results stand, they would centralize governing powers in his presidential office and radically alter Turkey’s democracy. According to unofficial results, Turkey approved constitutional amendments with a tight “yes” vote garnering 51.2% of the vote, and 48.8% opposed, with 100% of the ballots counted, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported Sunday. Mr. Erdogan’s political rivals, who backed the “no” campaign immediately demanded a recount. International election observers issued a report Monday in Ankara saying that while the vote was “generally well administered,” the referendum itself, including the campaign and the ballot counting, fell short of European standards and Turkish laws. An unusual decision by the Turkish election board to count all ballots despite numerous complaints from the opposition of voting irregularities contradicted Turkish law, according to findings from a joint election observation mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe.

“While the technical aspects of the referendum were well administered and referendum day proceeded in an orderly manner, late changes in counting procedures undermined important safeguards and was in contradiction with the law,” the head of the OSCE election observer mission, Tana de Zulueta, said. The president is scheduled to hold a cabinet meeting Monday and other ministers appeared to be keeping to their normal working schedules amid growing disquiet among opposition camps about the preliminary vote tallies.

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