President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has snubbed opposition objections to the results of the April 16 constitutional referendum, as the “no” camp took legal action against the Supreme Election Board (YSK), the top office for the final decision on any poll disputes, over its decisions.
“A win is a win,” Erdoğan told CNN on April 18, commenting on the narrow win of the “yes” camp in the referendum on amendments that have introduced a shift to an executive presidential system.
“I come from a football background. It doesn’t matter if you win 1-0 or 5-0. The ultimate goal is to win the game,” he said.
Some 51.4 percent of the more than 58 million Turkish voters said “yes” to the charter amendment package.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also slammed main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for his objection to the results and call for protests at the alleged fraud.
“Objection is a way of law, an instrument to seek justice, just as the elections are the manifestation of democracy. But the ways of seeking justice should be limited to that. To exceed this boundary and call citizens out onto the streets is wrong. It is overstepping the line of legitimacy. We expect the main opposition party leader to act in a more responsible manner,” Yıldırım told reporters on April 19.
His comments came after Kılıçdaroğlu said the CHP would not acknowledge the referendum result, while the party has officially appealed to the YSK for the annulment of the vote on April 17.
“We do not acknowledge this election which will go down in history as the ‘unsealed election.’ We will not recognize it. The national will should be respected and the referendum should be repeated,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on his official Twitter account on April 17.
“He made an unfortunate declaration stating that they will not acknowledge the results. It is unacceptable for the main opposition party not to acknowledge results which the public has already acknowledged,” Yıldırım said, adding that the YSK is the final authority to evaluate the objections.
“The reasons and the grounds for the objection are the jurisdiction of YSK. We don’t have any authority to comment on the decisions of the YSK or to know the grounds of the objections. But it should be noted that representatives from all parties were present during the voting and while all kinds of decisions were made. There were representatives from all parties monitoring the ballot boxes, and the provincial election committees. It would be useful to take this fact into consideration,” Yıldırım said.
YSK Chairman Sadi Güven announced on April 19 that the board would evaluate the objections before noon.
The board later rejected the opposition appeals to nullify the referendum.
Ten members of the board rejected the annulment while one member voted in favor of it.
As the CHP made legal objections to results in several cities, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the third largest party in parliament and a major backer of the “no” vote, lodged a complaint in Ankara against Güven and other board numbers for “malpractice.”
Ahmet Yıldırım, a deputy chair of the HDP’s group in parliament, said ballots and envelopes without official seals were widespread in previous elections but that the YSK suddenly decided this time to accept them as valid.
Bar associations both in Istanbul and İzmir also made legal complaints against the YSK.
The Istanbul Bar Association accused the YSK in a petition of “malpractice” and “denaturation of the election result.”
İzmir Bar head Aydın Özcan said in a press conference in the main courthouse in the Aegean province that the YSK decision overshadowed impartiality in the referendum, criticizing the body for ignoring relevant laws.
Özcan said there were double standards in approving ballots without seals in Turkey and deeming them invalid in votes from abroad.