(Adds reactions and context)
BERLIN, April 16 Germany's foreign minister said
on Sunday it was good that the acrimonious Turkish referendum
campaign was over and urged people to stay calm with the 'Yes'
vote for constitutional change to expand President Tayyip
Erdogan's power narrowly ahead.
President Tayyip Erdogan celebrated what he said was a clear
result but opponents said they would challenge the vote count,
which gave a narrow 51.3 percent lead to Erdogan's supporters.
The head of the Turkish electoral board said the 'Yes' vote won
"We'd be well advised to keep calm and to proceed in a
level-headed way," Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a
"It's good that election campaign, which was fought so
bitterly, including here in Germany, is now over," said Gabriel,
a member of the Social Democrats (SPD) - the junior partner in
Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition.
During the campaign, Erdogan repeatedly attacked European
countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, accusing them
of "Nazi-like" tactics for banning his ministers from speaking
to rallies of Turkish voters abroad.
Peter Altmaier, Merkel's chief of staff, said on German
broadcaster ARD that the result showed there was a "very lively
political debate" in Turkey, but it was necessary to wait for
official results before commenting further.
He said there were election observers in Turkey and the
German government "would of course respect a result that came
about in a free and democratic vote".
Asked if the vote was free and democratic, Altmaier said the
German government would discuss the result once it was official
and election observers would look at whether it was fairly
Manfred Weber, the German leader of the conservative bloc in
the European Parliament, told German broadcaster ZDF that Turkey
was heading in the wrong direction, pointing to mass dismissals
in the wake of July's failed coup and the jailing of journalists
and civil servants.
"Now that Turkey has obviously taken the wrong path from a
European perspective, we need to re-evaluate our relationship,
and specifically that means that the EU accession talks with
Turkey that we're still having can no longer be continued."
Germany has about three million residents of Turkish
background, about 1.41 million of whom are Turkish citizens who
were eligible to vote in the referendum.
Senior SPD member Axel Schaefer said majorities reached in
democratic votes could turn against democracy itself, pointing
to the 1933 elections in Germany, when support for Adolf
Hitler's Nazis surged.
"The Brexit vote is pushing Britain into the sidelines, the
presidential election of (U.S. President Donald) Trump is taking
the USA on an adventure, the Erdogan referendum is leading
Turkey into absolutism and the 1933 German parliamentary
election led Germany into the abyss," he said.
Cem Ozdemir, a leader of Germany's opposition Greens who is
of ethnic Turkish origin, said on Twitter it was a "black day
for Turkey" but added: "Almost 50 percent voted for democracy
and against dictatorship. We stand by their side."
Beatrix von Storch, a member of the European Parliament for
Germany's anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party
said on Twitter: "All Turks with a German passport who today
voted in favour of an Islamic dictatorship in Turkey are very
welcome to leave Germany."
(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy, Larry