Erdogan wins amid claims of polling fraud

APTOPIX-Turkey-Referendum-3

APTOPIX-Turkey-Referendum-3

However, this comes amid an outcry by opponents who said the vote was marred by irregularities and they would challenge its result.

Major cities in Turkey, including Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, all voted against the new system, and protests have begun in opposition to the new changes.

Erdogan, who first came to power in 2003 as prime minister, had argued a "Turkish-style" presidential system would bring stability and prosperity to a country rattled by a failed coup previous year that left more than 200 people dead, and a series of devastating attacks by the Islamic State group and Kurdish militants.

Addressing crowds of flag-waving supporters from the steps of the presidential palace in Ankara, Erdogan said Sunday's vote had ended all debate on changing the constitution and creating an executive presidency. "That is why it is very significant".

The commission's decision to consider unstamped ballots "valid unless they were proved to be fraudulent" raises questions about the validity of the vote, said opponents of the constitutional changes.

"The United States needs Turkey right now".

Turkey's longstanding bid for European Union membership was already in doubt and could be dropped for good if Erdogan follows through on suggestions to reintroduce the death penalty, which he reiterated after the referendum win.

Proponents of the reform argue that it would end the current "two-headed system" in which both the president and parliament are directly elected, a situation they argue could lead to deadlock.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the outcome of the referendum confirmed Erdogan's dominance in the country's politics but also exposed divisions within Turkish society.

Monitors of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe said Monday the decision undermined important safeguards against fraud and was contrary to Turkish law.

Meanwhile, criticism from Turkish opposition officials have begun to surface, claiming suspicions of forging election results.

Especially, the changes related to the presidential system will be enacted after November 3, 2019, elections. "You have seen how the West attacked us", Erdogan told cheering supporters in Istanbul on Sunday. Erdogan declared victory in Sunday's historic referendum that will grant sweeping powers to the presidency, hailing the result as a "historic decisio". That caused Erdogan to accuse German and Dutch officials of acting like Nazis which, in turn, prompted strong condemnation of the Turkish president's words from European leaders. "Erdogan has ruled with a narrow victory before".

Erdogan said 25 million "Yes" votes were cast, with a 1.3-million vote margin of victory, according to unofficial results.

The referendum has bitterly divided the nation.

The package of 18 amendments would give the president the authority to draft the budget, declare a state of emergency and issue decrees overseeing ministries without parliamentary approval.

They set a limit of two five-year terms for presidents and also allow the president to remain at the helm of a political party.

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