Turkey's supreme election board rejects opposition referendum annulment bid

Turkey's supreme election board rejects opposition referendum annulment bid
Turkey's top election authority rejected an opposition effort to annul Sunday's referendum despite widespread criticism and doubt over the integrity of the poll.
2 min read
19 April, 2017
Turkey's opposition attempted to appeal the referendum vote [Getty]

Turkey's top election authority rejected an opposition bid to annul the referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers on Wednesday, after widespread doubts and complaints of vote-rigging, state media reported.

Ten members of the Supreme Election Board (YSK) decided against annulling the vote, while only one voted in favour, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. 

On Tuesday, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) requested the poll be scrapped due to alleged violations, including vote rigging.

In an interview with CNN-Turk television, Bulent Tezcan, CHP deputy leader, said the court's decision sparked a "serious legitimacy crisis". 

"We will activate all legal channels," he said, adding that the party would map out its policy after meeting legal experts on Thursday.

On Sunday, the 'Yes' camp won 51.41 percent in a narrower-than-expected victory, but the opposition claimed the outcome would have been reversed in a fair poll. 

To the dismay of opposition parties and 'No' supporters, the YSK made a last-minute decision on Sunday to accept ballot documents in envelopes without an official stamp. 

That also sparked protests from individuals who opposed constitutional changes granting Erdogan strengthened executive powers and who formed long queues to submit their petitions. 

The changes - most of which are due to come into force after November 2019 - are some of the most far-reaching in the country since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established the modern state in the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923.

Meanwhile Erdogan angrily rejected the criticism, telling the monitors to "Know your place."