Miércoles, 20 Junio, 2018

Worldwide election monitors slam handling of Turkish vote

Eleena Tovar | 18 Abril, 2017, 03:02

"The 16th April constitutional referendum took place on an unlevel playing field and the two side of the campaign did not have equal opportunities".

The referendum on Sunday was on granting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan extra powers. Under the changes, President Erdogan could stay in power through 2029. But Erdogan said he would sign it "without hesitation".

During the campaign, Erdogan repeatedly attacked European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, accusing them of "Nazi-like" tactics for banning his ministers from speaking to rallies of Turkish voters overseas.

That triggered strong criticism from the main opposition People's Republican Party, which said the decision caused a serious legitimacy problem in the referendum.

"For the first time in the history of the Republic, we are changing our ruling system through civil politics", he said in a victory speech.

Worldwide election observers have slammed the handling of Turkey's constitutional referendum.

Leader Devlet Bahceli, who led the party's push for "Yes", said the result was an "undeniably successful achievement" and should be respected, according to Reuters news agency. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the tight result "shows how deeply divided Turkish society is" and said the result entailed "a big responsibility for the Turkish leadership and President Erdogan personally".

German integration commissioner Aydan Ozoguz warned against criticizing Turks living in Germany across the board over how they voted, telling regional newspaper Saarbruecker Zeitung that only around 14 percent of all German Turks living in Germany had voted "Yes" and added that most migrants had not voted.

The European Council recognized Turkey as a candidate for full membership in 1999 and negotiations were opened in 2005, but have since been suspended over concerns of authoritarianism in Turkey. The official results are expected within 12 days.

The High Electoral Board (YSK) confirmed late on Sunday the results had shown the "Yes" campaign with 1.25 million more votes than the "No" camp.

"What is disconcerting for him [Erdogan] is not just the opposition, which is crying foul, but the fact that nearly 50 percent of the people voted against this massive change and may not be willing to accept the result easily", Aliriza said.

Opposition parties have argued that the changes, which come into effect after the 2019 presidential election, give too much power to the office.

Mr Erdogan has insisted the changes are needed to amend the current constitution, which was written by generals following a 1980 military coup, to confront security and political challenges in Turkey and avoid past fragile coalition governments.