Free Press Journal

Turkey: Main Opposition party files for referendum annulment


Ankara : Turkey’s prime minister called on the opposition to respect the result of a referendum that will give sweeping new powers to the office of the president, but the main opposition party formally requested the vote be annulled.

Sunday’s vote gave President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “yes” camp a narrow win for constitutional changes that will abolish the office of the prime minister and convert Turkey’s system of government from a parliamentary to a presidential one. Bulent Tezcan, deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, said the party filed a formal request seeking the referendum be annulled due to voting irregularities. He said the party would use all legal paths to challenge the vote. “We demand the cancellation of this referendum,” Tezcan said.

The opposition has listed a series of irregularities, but has been particularly outraged by an electoral board decision announced late Sunday to accept ballots that didn’t bear the official stamps used to verify they are genuine, as required by Turkish law. Monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who also listed numerous problems, said the move undermined important election safeguards. That drew a harsh rebuke from Erdogan and criticism from Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

“Efforts to cast a shadow on the result of the vote by spreading rumours of fraud are futile and in vain,” Yildirim said. “The will of the people was freely reflected into the ballot boxes and this business is over. Everyone and all sections and the main opposition party in particular must show respect. It is wrong to speak after the people have spoken.”

Opposition CHP head Kemal Kilicdaroglu accused the electoral board of bias and of favouring the governing party. “It is clear that the High Electoral Board is not receiving its power from the people, the law or the constitution but rather from a specific centre, a specific political authority,” he told his party’s lawmakers during a speech in Ankara today. He accused the board of “changing the rules midgame.” In Ankara, hundreds of people were queueing outside the election board’s offices to submit petitions requesting the board reverse its decision to accept the ballots without official stamps. AP