Erdogan claims victory in Turkish referendum

Erdogan claims victory in Turkish referendum

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a historic referendum Sunday that will greatly expand the powers of his office, although opposition parties questioned the outcome and said they would challenge the results.

With all ballots counted, the “yes” vote stood at 51.33%, while the “no” vote was 48.67%, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency. Turnout was as high as 84%.

Supporters of the constitutional amendments expanding the powers of president won in 48 out of 81 Turkish provinces. The three largest cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – voted against the changes.

Erdoğan on Sunday evening called ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party leader and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chairman Devlet Bahçeli and Grand Unity Party (BBP) chairman Mustafa Destici to congratulate them over the referendum victory.

With the new amendments, elections can be renewed by both parliament and the president. If the parliament decides in favor of a re-election by 360 votes, parliamentary and presidential elections will be made at the same time. 

The president will have the authority to issue budgets for approval by the parliament.

With the change, the number of MPs will be increased to 600 from the current 550. The minimum age to be elected will be reduced to 18 from 25. The president will have a five-year tenure, for a maximum of two terms.