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Turkey Referendum: Over 98% of ballots counted, Yes votes lead with more than 51%

Monday April 17, 2017 0:12 AM, IINA

Turkey Referendum
[Supporters gather near the headquarters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) on April 16, 2017 in Istanbul. (Photo: AFP)]

With more than 98 percent of the votes counted in Turkey’s constitutional referendum, Yes votes led on 51.30 percent.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has claimed victory for the "Yes" vote in the referendum to amend Turkey's constitution and grant the presidential office new executive powers.

As of 18:00GMT on Sunday, the "Yes" campaign was leading with 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent with 98.4 percent of votes counted.

Figures from vote counts showed Yes on 51.70 percent -- 23,997,153 votes -- while No had 48.30 percent, or 22,420,313 votes.

More than 55 million people in this country of about 80 million were registered to vote and more than 1.3 million Turkish voters cast their ballots abroad.

The data showed that Turkey's three biggest cities Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, as well as the predominantly Kurdish southeast voted "No", however, "Yes" campaign still performed better than expected in southeast where the region heavily voted for pro-PKK HDP in the general elections in 2015.

With more than 98 percent of the votes counted, the results show that a great majority of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voters sided with the "No" in referendum.

Although the votes of the MHP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) votes were 61.39 percent in the Nov. 1, 2015 referendum, "Yes" votes barely exceeded 51 percent in the referendum. AK Party votes were 49.49 percent in Nov. 1 elections.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and nationalist MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli and BBP leader Destici, the three leaders who backed the "Yes" vote, to congratulate them over the referendum victory.

Turkey headed to the polls on Sunday in a referendum on a 18-article bill that would see the country switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system.

This result gives the president new powers to assign ministers, high-level state officials, and vice-presidents, as well as half the members in the country's highest judicial body.

It will also allow the president to dissolve parliament, and issue executive decrees and state of emergencies.

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