Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has underlined its resolve to use all the existing democratic channels to ensure a rerun of the controversial referendum on the country’s constitutional reform.
“This referendum should be repeated. We will not act as if there is a constitution that is not existent. We will not buckle under a fait accompli. There should be no doubt that we will use every democratic right that we have to ensure it,” CHP spokesperson Selin Sayek Boke said on Wednesday.
Boke described the April 16 referendum on the expansion of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers as “null and void,” arguing that the polling process was “fraudulent” and the results were “manipulated.”
In Sunday’s referendum, the ‘Yes’ campaign won over 51 percent of the votes, while the ‘No’ campaign gained nearly 49 percent.
Boke accused Turkey’s election authority, the Supreme Board of Elections, of resorting to “dozens of tricks” to ensure that the ‘Yes’ result was achieved.
The pro-Kurdish opposition HDP, which has also appealed for the referendum to be annulled, said the electoral board’s decision to allow the counting of unstamped ballots has made it impossible to determine how many invalid or fake votes may have been counted.
HDP deputy chairman Mithat Sancar said the ‘Yes’ campaign had benefited from state resources under emergency rules, while and the HDP’s co-leaders were under arrest and its candidates for polling station monitors had been rejected.
“This referendum will forever remain controversial. You cannot build a change in the political system on such a controversial and unfair referendum,” he said.
According to the head of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations Metin Feyzioglu, the decision to count unstamped ballots, without keeping any record of them, removed the main safeguard against voting fraud.
“What makes any country a democracy is the security of the ballot boxes... If your ballots are unsafe, that means that regime is not a democracy,” Feyzioglu told reporters.
Reports by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe also rejected the referendum as “an uneven contest,” arguing that a decision to count unstamped votes was in violation of Turkey’s electoral law.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu rejected the European observers report, saying it contains several mistakes.
“The OSCE’s report has no reliability as their observations lack objectivity and are extremely partial,” Cavusoglu told a news conference in Ankara.
Turkey’s High Electoral Board said it had assessed appeals from the CHP and two other parties at a seven-hour meeting and rejected them by 10 to one votes.
In response, CHP Deputy Chairman Bulent Tezcan said his party was considering taking its appeal to Turkey's Constitutional Court or the European Court of Human Rights.
Separately, Istanbul police detained 19 activists on Wednesday on charges of attempted provocation for organizing protests against the referendum.
The Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) said police detained its Istanbul chairman, Mesut Gecgel, on Wednesday on the accusation of “agitating the public” by claiming that the win for the ‘Yes’ campaign was illegitimate.
Deniz Demirdogen, Gecgel’s lawyer, said anti-terror police raided the houses of the suspects in Istanbul, adding that arrest warrants have been issued for a total of 38 people.
Since Erdogan declared victory in the referendum, protests have been held in the country.