Historic referendum in Turkey: narrow win for “yes”

The constitutional referendum was held in Turkey yesterday. Yes campaign won 51.41% of the votes, while No got 48.59%. Turnout was said to around 85%. President Erdoğan declared victory last night before the official results.

Historic referendum on a package of constitutional amendments ended. The amendments approved and supported with 51.41% votes in favor.

Last minute decision of YSK

However, the decision of the Supreme Electoral Board of Turkey (YSK) raises concerns about the validity of the voting. Yesterday evening, after the polls were closed, YSK declared that unstamped ballots will be considered as valid unless they were proved to be fraudulent. Making a statement last night, Sadi Güven, head of YSK, said that they made this decision in order not to violate people's right to vote just because the officials failed to stamp some ballot papers, after they received a high number of complaints and an AKP representative demanded such a decision.

He also added that official results were expected in 11-12 days.

Erdal Aksünger, deputy chair of CHP, said that CHP would contest 37% of the ballot boxes and HDP stated that they are planning to object to two-thirds of the ballots.

Erdoğan talked about death penalty in his victory speech

President Erdoğan gave a speech after the referendum. He said that there are about 25 million yes votes according to unofficial results and stated: "I will discuss the issue of death penalty with the prime minister and Devlet Bahçeli."

Here are the highlights from his speech:

"Turkey made a historic decision concerning an issue that has been discussed for 200 years.

We have a lot to do. First thing we will do is to discuss death penalty with Yıldırım and Bahçeli. Kılıçdaroğlu also said that he would support it. I would approve it. If Kılıçdaroğlu doesn't support it, we would hold another referendum for it."

Yıldırım: "our nation has won"

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım gave a speech in AKP headquarter, when 97% of the ballots were opened.

Here are the highlights from his speech:

"I am grateful to all of our citizens who protected the democracy with a high turnout.

With this referendum, a new page has opened in our history of democracy. Be sure that we will use this result for our people’s welfare and peace.

There is no loser in a referendum; our nation has won.

Now, it is time to be united and act in solidarity. We are happy that yes campaign has won. It is an honor to be on the same page with the national will.

We put the new system in practice with the first parliamentary election to come."

Kılıçdaroğlu: "YSK casted doubt on the decision of the nation"

CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also spoke after the referendum. Talking about the last minute decision of YSK, he said: "This mistake makes the referendum controversial. We will investigate this."

Here are the highlights from his speech:

"We held a referendum under unequal conditions. Despite this, we did whatever we can within legal limits in order to protect democracy.

Constitutional laws are social agreement documents. This will be the constitution of us all. This referendum revealed that at least 50% of the people say no. In this sense, these amendments and the constitution don't amount to a social agreement.

The notion of rule of law is very important. The parliaments make the laws and each citizen must obey those laws. If they don't, the notion of rule of law would be damaged.

YSK made this referendum controversial. YSK decided to count unstamped ballots. Why? No institution can consider itself higher than the parliament. You cannot do this just because someone from the ruling party demanded it. You cannot change the rules of the game during the game. We don't accept this. We respect the decision of the nation, but YSK cast doubt on the decision of the nation and made the referendum legally questionable.”