CHP says may withdraw from Parliament due to controversial referendum

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Selin Sayek Böke

Spokesperson for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Selin Sayek Böke has said the use of unstamped ballots made a referendum held on Sunday “controversial” and that her party would do everything possible for a repeat of the vote including withdrawing from Parliament.

A constitutional reform package that will introduce an executive presidency in Turkey received 51.4 percent of the vote in favor in the referendum, but some opposition parties have contested the results due to the use of unstamped ballots.

Speaking to reporters following a party meeting on Wednesday, Böke said: “The referendum should be held again, should be repeated. The CHP will do what is necessary during this process.”

When asked by a reporter what kind of steps the CHP is considering taking, Böke said: “Those steps include both withdrawing from Parliament and continuing to work.”

The CHP spokesperson said Turkey has been holding elections for years and that this is the first time an election has been so controversial both at the national and the international level.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said on Monday that Turkey’s referendum on Sunday lacked equal opportunities, media coverage for the contesting sides and international standards for a fair election.

In a statement on Monday, the joint mission of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said the April 16 constitutional referendum in Turkey was contested on an unlevel playing field and that the two sides in the campaign did not have equal opportunities.

“In general, the referendum did not live up to Council of Europe standards. The legal framework was inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic process. On referendum day there were no major problems, except in some regions, however we can only regret the absence of civil society observers in polling stations,” Cezar Florin Preda, head of the delegation from PACE, said.

“A state of emergency should never be used to undermine the rule of law,” Preda added.

The OSCE said, in some cases, access for ODIHR observers during the opening and voting in polling stations was either denied or limited.

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