By Ayhan Simsek
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she respects the right of Turkish people to make decisions on their country’s constitution and called for political dialogue to address European concerns over transition to a presidential system in Turkey.
In a joint statement with Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel released on Monday, Merkel said her government had noted the preliminary results of the constitutional referendum on Sunday, which showed a Yes win with 51.41 percent votes and No with 48.59 percent votes.
“The German federal government respects the right of Turkish citizens to decide on their own constitutional order,” the statement said, adding the results also showed divisions in the society over the proposed constitutional changes.
“The federal government expects that the Turkish government would seek a respectful dialogue with all political and social actors after a tough referendum campaign,” it said.
The proposed switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system in Turkey had sparked a debate in European countries, with several politicians arguing that such a change would weaken independence of judiciary, necessary checks and balances of a democratic system.
Merkel and Gabriel urged in the statement for a closer political dialogue between Turkey, EU and other European institutions to address concerns over the proposed constitutional changes.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had dismissed such concerns in his post-referendum speech on Sunday night in Istanbul.
Erdogan underlined the new presidential system “separates executive, legislature and judiciary” bodies, and also introduces a truly effective administrative system.
The poll resulted in a 51.41 percent victory for the Yes campaign on Sunday, heralding the adoption of an 18-article bill that includes provisions for an executive presidency.
As of 10.50 a.m. local time (0750GMT), unofficial results showed 25,156,860 voted Yes while 23,777,014, or 48.59 percent, voted No. The turnout was 85.46 percent.