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Turkey referendum: Campaign on Erdogan powers :

 

 

7Turkey's referendum campaign was "unequal", with critics suffering restrictions and state resources

being misused, international monitors say.

The vote itself was marred by late procedural changes, the Organization for Security and Co-

operation in Europe (OSCE) added.

In the referendum, voters gave sweeping new powers to President Erdogan.

The narrow vote was ruled valid by Turkey's electoral body, despite claims of irregularities by the

opposition.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's push for an executive presidency succeeded with 51.4% voting for

it.

Despite saying that the voting day was "well administered", the OSCE criticised the campaign, saying:

It was an "unlevel playing field" and the two sides of the campaign "did not have equal

opportunities"

It was unbalanced due to the active involvement of the president and several senior officials

It was tarnished by a number of senior officials equating No supporters with terrorist sympathisers

Administrative resources were misused

Under the state of emergency, essential fundamental freedoms were curtailed

They also criticised a late change by electoral officials that allowed voting papers without official

stamps to be counted. They said this move "removed an important safeguard and were contested by

the opposition.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has demanded a recount of 60% of the votes.

Its deputy head said the result should be annulled altogether. And the pro-Kurdish Peoples'

Democratic Party (HDP) also challenged the vote.

But the head of Turkey's electoral body, Sadi Guven, said the unstamped ballot papers had been

produced by the High Electoral Board and were valid. He said a similar procedure had been used in

past elections.

From biased media coverage to a misuse of administrative resources by the president and

government; and from restrictions on free speech to a decision to accept unstamped ballots, which

"contradicted the law"; the election observers concluded that the referendum did not fulfil

international standards. So what now?

It's sure to embolden the opposition in its attempts to challenge the results. But that is an uphill

struggle in a country where the state machinery is so heavily controlled by the president and his

inner circle and where around 80% of the media is pro-government, pushing its interpretation of the

facts.

What's more certain is that it'll shape the response to the referendum by European leaders and

officials. They won't rush to congratulate a victory whose legitimacy has been placed in serious

doubt. And as government supporters double down, convinced of their win, the chasm between

Turkey and the west shows no sign of narrowing.

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