Around 1,500 people have protested the outcome of Turkey’s recent referendum in Istanbul. Earlier, the country’s top election authority voted against annulling the referendum results further empowering President Erdogan.
Demonstrators in Istanbul’s central Besiktas district chanted slogans on Wednesday evening, calling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “murderer” and a “thief,” as protests entered their fourth night since the vote to expand Erdogan’s powers.
Protesters accused the Election Commission of partisanshipover its decision to reject all opposition requests to annul Sunday’s referendum result. By garnering the slimmest of majorities, with just over 51 percent of the vote, Erdogan has succeeded in consolidating his rule and granting sweeping powers to the presidency.
However, in Turkey’s three largest cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – a majority voted “no.” Although he basked in his referendum win, it’s clear Erdogan would have preferred to consolidate his power with greater public support.
Accusations of voter manipulation
Opponents of the reforms claim there were irregularities and possible fraud on election day, pointing in particular to the Election Commission’s decision allowing unsealed ballots to be counted.
“If the referendum hadn’t been manipulated, the ‘no’ camp would have won,” Cansu, a 23-year-old protester at Besiktas, told DW.
However, regardless of Sunday’s referendum result, many young voters had already lost faith in the opposition posing a significant challenge to Erdogan’s grip on power.
“The opposition is just too weak,” said Dilek, a 30-year-old engineer. “That is why we are now taking matters into our own hands. We trust civil society more than politicians.”
Protests draw further arrests
Istanbul police arrested 38 people in raids early on Wednesday, following protests the previous night, according to reports by opposition newspaper “Birgun.”
The arrested include Mesut Gecgel, the Istanbul Province chairman of the left-wing Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP), who helped organize the demonstrations in Besiktas. Gecgel reported his arrest on Twitter.
“meşru” olan “evet” oylarını protesto ettiğim gerekçesiyle gözaltına alınıyorum. at hırsızları boş durmuyor.
memleket bizim. biz kazandık!
— Mesut Geçgel (@mesutgecgel) 19 апреля 2017 г.