The controversial referendum on whether to expand the Presidential powers in a historical political change in Turkey has ended. President Erdogan has declared victory in official results and already, two opposition parties are challenging the outcome and contesting the results.

Two main opposition parties are already questioning the legitimacy of the results and are calling for a recount of up to 60% of votes.  They highlighted irregularities with the way the vote was counted where 2 million votes were considered irregular and up to 3 million invalid.  Also highlighted was the fact that the “No” vote had been ahead in major cities and the “Yes” votes was lagging behind throughout the votes.

Erdogan Supporters react to the outcome of Turkey Referendum at the party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, April 16, 2017. Credit: REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The referendum is the biggest constitutional change in Turkey’s political history which will strip powers from the Parliament giving them all to the president.  It will move Turkey from a Parliamentary to a Presidential system with power consolidated around one person, the President.  The president will have the powers to dissolve parliament, fire and hire anyone he pleases.

Analysts and local opposition parties fear this move which will further consolidate power to Erdogan and his party will lead to a further crackdown of opposition parties and restriction of press freedom, something which is already happening.

The President with the new, unlimited powers will be able to scrap the role of Prime Minister and abolish parliament while extending presidential limit to 2029.  The change also gives the President unlimited powers to enact laws by decree as well as appoint and dismiss judges.  The significance cannot be dismissed as this changes Turkey’s political system which has been in place since 1876 and will further divide a national that is already polarized.

The opposition is questioning the legitimacy of the results and is calling for a recount. Credit: Twitter

The feeling among many Turks is divided with the other half seeing the referendum as a power grab and a road to dictatorship by one man keen on consolidating power around himself and his party.  Whatever the outcome, Turkey is already a deeply polarized nation and Erdogan’s victory only increases these divisions not reduce them.

Erdogan and his party may be celebrating the victory but is seems there is a bitter challenge ahead yet to come with the opposition already claiming manipulation of the count and outcome.


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