Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared victory in a constitutional referendum granting him vastly increased executive powers.
On Sunday, Erdogan said that the country had made a historic decision by voting for the executive powers and that the “Yes” campaign had gained 51.5 percent of the votes in the referendum, which was held earlier in the day.
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In late January, the Turkish parliament approved the 18-article constitutional change, which was submitted last December. A total of 339 legislators voted in favor of the move. The number of the parliamentarians who voted against the bill was 142.
"Turkey for the first time in its history has decided with the will of the parliament and its people on such an important change," he said. "For the first time in the history of the Republic, we are changing our ruling system through civil politics. That is why it is very significant," Erdogan added.
The director of Turkey’s electoral board also confirmed that "Yes" vote had won the referendum and that the final results would be announced within 11-12 days.
Erdogan also thanked Turkish voters in foreign countries who he said played a big part of the success in the referendum.
He further called on foreign countries to respect the results and to show greater awareness of Turkey's "sensitivities" in the "fight against terror". "We would like other countries and institutions to show respect to the decision of the nation."
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He also noted that not all articles of the reforms will go into effect immediately and some of them will remain until November 2019.
Erdogan also said that another referendum may be held on reinstating the death penalty, a move which would be the end of Turkey's accession talks with the EU.
"If it (a parliament bill) comes in front of me, I will approve it. But if there isn't support (from the opposition in parliament)... then what shall we do? Then we could have another referendum for that," he said.
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Before Erdogan’s speech, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the “Yes” vote had opened a "new page" in Turkey’s democracy.
"The presidential system, according to unofficial results, has been confirmed with a 'Yes' vote," he said. "This is a decision made by the people. In our democracy's history, a new page has opened with this vote…There are no losers in this referendum, the winner is Turkey, the winner is the dear people," he added.
Protests break out in Istanbul
Meanwhile, protests have erupted in several neighborhoods in Istanbul with residents banging pots and pans from the windows.
Picture and videos posted over social media also showed small pockets of protests erupting across the city.
Legitimacy of referendum open to debate
The head of Turkey’s main opposition party the Republican People's Party (CHP) has slammed the High Electoral Board for the “controversial" results.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu said that the “Yes” vote advocates may have broken the law.
"The Higher Election Board has thrown a dark shadow on the people's decision. They have caused the referendum's legitimacy to be questioned," he said.
Earlier in the day, the board announced that votes not stamped by its officials would be counted unless proven fraudulent.