Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on Sunday claimed a victory after a majority of the country voted, in a referendum, in favour of changes to the Constitution. With these changes, the presidential office will have new executive powers and the post of the prime minister will be abolished, Al Jazeera reported.
With 99% of votes counted at 11.30 pm (local time), unofficial results had the “Yes” camp leading with 51.3% to 48.7%. Around 85.46% of the electorate voted in the referendum to decide on reforms to 18 articles of the Turkish Constitution.
“I pray the outcome will bring auspiciousness to our country,” Erdogan said in Istanbul. “The president will serve the country bearing in mind one nation, one flag, one state...The referendum is over and the debate prior to that is over.”
The constitutional changes have in discussion since Erdogan came to power in August 2014. The Turkish Parliament passed the reform Bill in January this year. The governing AK Party was able to get the required count of votes with the support of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), according to the state-run Andolu Agency.
All reforms to the Constitution will come into force only after the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2019. The executive powers with the presidential office will then include assigning ministers, vice presidents and high-level state officials, as well as half the members in the Constitutional Court of Turkey. The president will also have the power to dissolve Parliament, issue executive decrees and declare states of emergency.