Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in Sunday’s referendum over whether to give sweeping powers to the president, even as the Turkish opposition says they’ve received widespread complaints about voting fraud and that the referendum was held in an atmosphere of fear and repression.
The referendum would allow the winner of the 2019 presidential election to seize full control of the government, dissolving the post of prime minister, and allow the president to issue decrees, declare emergency rule and appoint ministers and top state officials. Critics say the constitutional changes will allow Erdogan to rule until at least 2029, if not longer, and could turn Turkey into a dictatorship.
On Sunday, President Erdogan announced the referendum had passed, even though all the votes had not yet been counted.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: “Turkey took a historic decision on a 200-year-old discussion on its constitutional system. This decision is not an ordinary event. This is the day on which a very important decision on the constitution has been decided.”
The electoral commission says support for the referendum is currently leading 51 to 48 percent, with 99 percent of the votes counted. But the opposition says they’ve received thousands of reports of voter fraud, including some alleged instances caught on camera. Thousands across Turkey’s mostly Kurdish southeast were also unable to vote because they didn’t have an address, after having been displaced from their homes by the ongoing government offensive, which has destroyed whole villages.
On Monday, hundreds of opponents of the referendum marched through Istanbul in protest, while in Ankara some residents spoke out about alleged voting fraud.
Ebru Tavukcu: “This almost feels like saying farewell to the republic system. I believe our votes are stolen. I think the electoral board’s decision to count unstamped 'yes' votes as valid, upon AK Party’s request, is a big scandal. We all remained silent in the face of this.”
We’ll have more on the Turkish referendum later in the broadcast.