US and Europe's unease over contested referendum
President Donald Trump called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on the country's contested referendum.
He made the call despite protests from opposition parties and international monitoring groups, including Mr Trump's own State Department, about voting irregularities during the referendum.
Critics argue the reforms in Turkey will hand extensive power to a man with an increasingly autocratic bent and leave few checks and balances in place.
Under the new system, the president will be able to appoint ministers and senior government officials, issue decrees and declare states of emergency.
Mr Erdogan has also said he would approve the death penalty if it was supported in a referendum or a bill submitted to him through parliament, which would end Turkey's aspirations to join the EU.
Mr Trump has been criticised for congratulating Mr Erdogan, who is seen as taking Turkey in an increasingly authoritarian direction.
The differing responses underscored the awkward situation faced by many U.S. and European officials in responding to the disputed results of the referendum, which changed Turkey from a parliamentary democracy to one led by an executive president with strong central powers. It passed by a slim margin, 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent.
Observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), of which the US is a member, said the campaign did not meet international standards for democracies, noting that virtually all Turkish media failed to cover the opposition, creating an “uneven playing field.”
Erdogan lashed out in response at what he called a “Crusader mentality in the West.”
“Both the U.S. and E.U. are in a bind,” said Michael Werz, a Turkey analyst with the Center for American Progress. “They can either [disagree with] the OSCE findings, or they can say the truth: It was not a free and fair election.”
Turkey remains a key ally in the campaign against the Islamic State and as the host for millions of Syrian refugees.
It is thought that the US wll not be concerned with Turkey's domestic matters.
However, according to the Washington Post, Aykan Erdemir, a former member of the Turkish parliament who is an analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said suspicions that the referendum was rigged — and still produced only a razor-thin victory — create a legitimacy crisis for Erdogan and his allies in the United States and the E.U.