ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Turkeyâ€™s main opposition party on Monday urged the countryâ€™s electoral board to cancel the results of a landmark referendum that granted sweeping new powers to the nationâ€™s president, citing what it called substantial voting irregularities.
International observers who monitored the voting also found irregularities, saying the conduct of Sundayâ€™s referendum â€śfell shortâ€ť of international standards. It specifically criticized a decision Sunday by Turkeyâ€™s electoral board to accept ballots that did not have official stamps, saying that undermined safeguards against fraud.
Turkeyâ€™s electoral board confirmed the â€śyesâ€ť victory in the referendum and said the final results would be declared in 11-12 days. The state-run Anadolu Agency said the â€śyesâ€ť side stood at 51.4 percent of the vote, while the â€śnoâ€ť vote saw 48.6 percent support.
The margin could cement President Recep Tayyip Erdoganâ€™s hold on power in Turkey for a decade and is expected to have a huge effect on the countryâ€™s long-term political future and its international relations. Opponents had argued the constitutional changes give too much power to a man they say has shown increasingly autocratic tendencies.
â€śI suspect the result was narrower than what Erdogan expected,â€ť said Howard Eissenstat, associate professor of Middle East History at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. However, he added, â€śErdogan has ruled with a narrow victory before. He does not see a narrow victory as anything less than a mandate. His tendency has been not to co-opt the opposition but to crush it.â€ť
On Monday, Erdogan slammed his critics at home and abroad.
â€śWe have put up a fight against the powerful nations of the world,â€ť he told supporters greeting him at Ankara airport after arriving from Istanbul. â€śThe crusader mentality attacked us abroad, inside their lackeys attacked us. We did not succumb; as a nation we stood strong.â€ť
Opposition parties, however, cried foul on the vote. Bulent Tezcan, deputy chairman of the Republican Peopleâ€™s Party, or CHP, cited numerous problems in the conduct of the vote.