European leaders respond cautiously to Turkey vote

Erdogan Istanbul

Turkey s referendum campaign was conducted on an "unlevel playing field" and the vote count itself was marred by late procedural changes, global observers said on Monday.

According to unofficial results, it was a narrow win for the "Yes" camp that included President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AKP and the nationalist opposition party MHP with 51.4% of the vote. Under the changes, President Erdogan could stay in power through 2029.

Sources in Erdogan's office said on Sunday that he told Prime Minister Binali Yildirim he was grateful to the nation for showing its will at the polls.

The pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party said it presented complaints about unstamped ballots affecting 3 million voters, more than twice the margin of Erdogan's victory.

The main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, called for the result to be annulled, alleging widespread violations.

The president survived a coup attempt past year and responded with a crackdown, jailing 47,000 people and sacking or suspending more than 120,000 from government jobs such as schoolteachers, soldiers, police, judges or other professionals.

In a joint statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that the outcome of the vote has indicated a "deeply divided" Turkish society.


"In view of the close referendum result and the far-reaching implications of the constitutional amendments, we also call on the Turkish authorities to seek the broadest possible national consensus in their implementation", the commission's statement read. "They shouldn't try, it will be in vain", he said.

German integration commissioner Aydan Ozoguz warned against criticizing Turks living in Germany across the board over how they voted, telling regional newspaper Saarbruecker Zeitung that only around 14 percent of all German Turks living in Germany had voted "Yes" and added that most migrants had not voted.

The Council of Europe, of which Turkey is a member, is a separate entity from the EU.

He said he was even willing to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Under the changes, most of which will only come into effect after the next elections due in 2019, Turkey's governance will be transformed from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency. Mr Erdogan and his supporters say the changes are needed to amend the current constitution, written by generals following a 1980 military coup, confront the security and political challenges Turkey faces, and avoid the fragile coalition governments of the past.

Under the proposals, the office of prime minister would be abolished, allowing the president to draft the budget, declare a state of emergency and issue decrees overseeing ministries without parliamentary approval.

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