Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a narrow victory Sunday in a referendum that will allow him to vastly expand his presidential powers less than a year after a botched coup attempt failed to unseat him and cemented his party’s grip on power.

In a nationwide vote, just over 51% of Turkish citizens elected to change Turkey’s constitution to create an executive presidency for the first time in the country’s modern history. Nearly 49% voted against the change.

“Though the opposition is still disputing the final vote tallies, the Turkish public seems to have given Erdogan and the AKP [Justice and Development Party] license to reorganize the Turkish state and in the process raze the values on which it was built,” Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow for Middle East & Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), wrote on Sunday.

The vote was ruled valid by Turkey’s electoral body on Monday morning. But the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitors elections, said that the vote was held on an “unlevel playing field” because of intimidation campaigns against “no” voters, Erdogan’s war on the free press, and non-stamped ballots whose legitimacy have been called into question.


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Featured image courtesy of Reuters