Ankara — The Turkish prime minister has claimed victory in the referendum to grant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan new powers, based on unofficial results.
Binali Yildirim was speaking as the count neared completion. With about 99% of ballots counted, “Yes” was on about 51.3% and “No” on about 48.7%.
Erdogan supporters say replacing the parliamentary system with an executive presidency would modernise the country.
The two main opposition parties are challenging the results.
A “Yes” vote could also see Mr Erdogan remain in office until 2029.
Supporters are streaming into the governing AK party’s headquarters here in Ankara, car horns and campaign songs blaring – they are convinced the “Yes” side has won and that President Erdogan now has a mandate for the biggest political reform in Turkey’s modern history.
The president has claimed victory but the opposition disputes it, complaining of massive irregularities with the voting, suggesting the state news agency manipulated results and vowing to challenge them with the supreme election board.
“The presidential system, according to unofficial results, has been confirmed with a ‘Yes’ vote,” Prime Minister Yildirim told a cheering crowd from the balcony at AKP headquarters in the capital, Ankara.
President Erdogan, who reportedly called Mr Yildirim earlier to congratulate him, has told a rally in the second city, Istanbul, that Turkey was carrying out the “most important reform” in its history.
Elsewhere, Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak admitted the “Yes” vote had been lower than expected.