04/18/2017, 09.37
TURKEY
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Erdogan’s victory applauded by Trump, criticized by Europe

A narrow victory of 51.4%. Congratulations also from Saudi Arabia. The Republican and pro-Kurdish opposition accuse fraud. It promises an Erdogan presidency until 2029 and the introduction of the death penalty.

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - President Recep Tayyep Erdogan has rejected all criticism that has rained down upon him following his marginal victory in the referendum he wanted. He was criticized by the opposition inside but also by European organizations such as the OSCE Human Rights Office (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and the Council of Europe. In return, he received compliments from Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia.

The result is a narrow victory: 51.4% voted in favor of the referendum and constitutional reform; the 48.59 voted "no." The big cities - such as Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara - voted "no".  Instead Erdogan won mostly in Anatolia.

The vote marked the start of constitutional changes that give the president greater powers: it eliminates the figure of the Prime Minister, gives the Erdogan administration power to choose ministers and judges. The new rules will come into force in November 2019 and since the president can be elected for two rounds of five years, it is possible that Erdogan to stay in power until 2029.

The two main opposition parties, the Republican CHP and pro-Kurdish HDP say the referendum was rigged, but the Election Committee has declared it valid. Meanwhile, the government has extended a state of emergency for another three months. The measure had been introduced after the failed coup d'etat in July and was to end in two days.

The OSCE and Council of Europe, although they have not challenged the referendum vote, have criticized the campaign. The two choices (the "yes" and "no") did not have equal opportunities to be presented; the "yes" was defended by the president and other dignitaries of the government on all media: the supporters of the "no" were treated as supporters of "terrorism", linked to the rhetoric of the failed coup d'état; some essential freedoms were trampled.

The referendum is a turning point in Turkish politics. Erdogan said that soon the country will hold a referendum on its possible membership in the European Union, which is likely to be rejected, after decades of waiting on the side-lines. In addition, the president said the legislation will soon introduce the death penalty. This would put an end to the negotiations between Ankara and the EU.

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