Istanbul – Turkey’s main opposition bloc filed Friday an appeal to the country’s highest administrative court, asking for a stay of execution against the election commission announcing final results in the referendum on expanding presidential powers.
The centre-left People’s Republican Party (CHP) and other opposition groups are concerned that the election commission allowed ballots lacking an official seal to be counted in the tight race.
The law prohibits validating such ballots, as a measure against fraud.
CHP lawyer Atilla Kart charged that the judiciary in Turkey is under pressure, but he believed there was still reason to lodge an appeal against the election commission’s decision, pushing for a recount of ballots.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim earlier said that while the opposition could technically appeal, the matter was for the election commission alone and not the judiciary.
“It is not a way of democracy to amend the people’s decision through a complaint to the courts,” Yildirim said, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency, adding, “the people have spoken.”
He denounced the CHP’s efforts as “useless” and a waste of time.
President Recep Erdogan declared victory on Sunday night as the state-run media showed the “yes” camp ahead by 51.4 per cent.
Atilla called on Erdogan not to interfere in a judicial process.
The opposition throughout the campaign had criticized the referendum as an attempt to concentrate power in one office and erode checks and balances, while regularly complaining the “no” camp was sidelined by the media and its rallies blocked.
The authorities have detained dozens of opposition protestors in the days since the referendum. The demonstrations have been peaceful.
NAN reports that Turkey’s justice minister said on Thursday that any opposition challenge to a referendum that expanded Erdogan’s powers would be rejected by the constitutional court.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag also said that the Europe’s human rights court had no jurisdiction on the matter.
The main opposition CHP party said on Wednesday it was considering taking its appeal for the referendum to be annulled to Turkey’s Constitutional Court or the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after the country’s electoral authority rejected challenges by the CHP and two other parties.
“If the opposition takes the appeal to the Constitutional Court, the court has no other option than to reject it,” Bozdag told television news channel A Haber.
“It can also apply to the ECHR, but it cannot achieve a result there either, because the agreements Turkey signed do not give parties the right to apply.”
Bozdag also reiterated government criticism of a report by European election observers who said the referendum, carried out under emergency law, took place on an “unlevel playing field”.
The observers said a last-minute decision by election authorities to allow unstamped ballots to be counted “undermined an important safeguard and contradicted the law which explicitly states that such ballots should be considered invalid”.
Bozdag said the report lacked fairness and objectivity.
“Those who prepared this report are partial,” he said.
Sunday’s referendum narrowly backed the largest overhaul of Turkey’s political system since the founding of the republic nearly a century ago, giving Erdogan sweeping authority over the NATO member-state.
But the tight result of a highly charged campaign laid bare divisions and triggered challenges from the opposition over its legitimacy.