WASHINGTON (AFP)—President Barack Obama on Sunday hailed the “vibrancy of Turkish democracy” after almost 80 percent of voters turned out for a constitutional referendum, with some 58 percent of them backing measures to reshape the judiciary and curb the military’s powers.
The White House said Obama had called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and congratulated him on Turkey’s hosting of the World Basketball Championship, the final of which will be competed between the two countries.
“The president [Obama] said he is rooting for the American team but that whoever wins both teams have played great basketball,” a statement said.
“The president also acknowledged the vibrancy of Turkey’s democracy as reflected in the turnout for the referendum that took place across Turkey today.”
The outcome came as a huge boost for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) ahead of general elections next year, in which the party, the moderate offshoot of a banned Islamist movement, will seek a third straight term in power.
The secularist opposition had campaigned against the amendments, charging that they masked an AKP quest to take control of the judiciary and assert an authoritarian grip on power.