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Appeals rejected as Yes wins narrowly

Yes campaign supporters celebrated their victory on Sunday night

Turkey is set to switch to an executive presidency system after, according to unofficial results, the Yes camp won a 51.4 – 48.6 margin victory

Turkey’s election body, the YSK, has rejected opposition parties’ applications to annul the result of Sunday’s referendum that granted sweeping new powers to the country’s president.

The petitions had been filed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Patriotic Party.

Ten out of 11 board members voted against the appeals, the YSK said in a statement.

“The YSK meeting to discuss the applications for cancelling the referendum due to complete illegality, began today at 10.30 [0730GMT],” the statement said, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

“The board voted separately on all three applications. Ten members voted against, one agreed and the applications were rejected by majority vote as of 17.30 [1430GMT].”

It was condemned by CHP deputy leader Bülent Tezcan, who called it a “a serious legitimacy crisis.”

He told reporters in Ankara. “This is not only a problem about the No votes but an injustice against all citizens who cast their votes. Because, the Yes votes also became controversial through this decision.”

An appeal to Turkey’s Constitutional Court is set to follow.

Narrow margin

Unofficial results show the Yes campaign won with 51.41 percent, while No votes stood at 48.59 percent. Voter turnout was 85.46 percent.

The YSK is due to release the official results at the beginning of May.

The amendments will empower President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is most influential politician in Turkey since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

They will abolish the role of prime minister and transfer its responsibilities to the president. It will remove oversight powers from parliament and allow Mr Erdoğan to return to the leadership of the governing AK Party, which founded in 2001.

The amendments will also grant the president control over lawmakers who will run in elections as well as a high percentage of judicial appointments.

Muted Western response

Save a phone call from US President Donald Trump to discuss the Middle East situation, there has little contact from western countries’ leaders since Sunday’s referendum result.

Mr Trump’s spokeswoman denied the call was an endorsement of the referendum result, which is remains disputed by the Turkish opposition.

International observers criticised the referendum, saying the campaign was conducted on an “unlevel playing field”.

“The 16 April constitutional referendum took place on an unlevel playing field and the two sides of the campaign did not have equal opportunities,” the OSCE – the observer body – said in a statement.

It criticised a decision to allow ballots not carrying an official stamp to be treated as valid votes, saying it broke Turkish election law.

The YSK had “issued instructions late in the day that significantly changed the ballot validity criteria, undermining an important safeguard and contradicting the law,” the OSCE said.