Turkey's president Erdogan fulfils ambition, but at a cost
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has finally fulfilled his long-held ambition to expand his powers after Sunday's referendum handed him the reigns of his country's governance. But success did not come without a cost.
His victory leaves the nation deeply divided and facing increasing tension with former allies abroad, while international monitors and opposition parties have reported numerous voting irregularities.
An unofficial tally carried by the country's state-run news agency gave Erdogan's 'yes'
vote a narrow win, with 51.4 per cent approving a series of constitutional changes converting Turkey's political system from a parliamentary to a presidential one. Critics argue that the reforms will hand extensive power to a man with an increasingly autocratic bent, leaving few checks and balances in place.
OPPOSITION CRIES FOUL
Opposition parties called foul, complaining of a series of irregularities. They were particularly outraged by an electoral board decision to accept ballots that did not bear official stamps, as required by Turkish law, and called for the vote to be annulled. International monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who also listed numerous irregularities, said the move undermined safeguards against fraud.
The referendum campaign was heavily weighted in favour of the 'yes' campaign, with Erdogan drawing on the full powers of the state and government to dominate the airwaves and billboards. The 'no' campaign complained of intimidation, detentions and beatings.
In Istanbul, hundreds of 'no' supporters demonstrated in the streets yesterday, chanting "thief, murderer, Erdogan" and banging pots and pans.