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3 reasons disgruntled conservatives may sway Turkish referendum

Small cracks have appeared in Turkey’s conservative ranks, but they are likely to have a big impact on the outcome of a crucial referendum expected in April.
People wave Turkey's national flags during the Democracy and Martyrs Rally, organized by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and supported by ruling AK Party (AKP), oppositions Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), to protest against last month's failed military coup attempt, in Istanbul, Turkey, August 7, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RTSLKWT
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In the run-up to the critical referendum expected in April on a presidential system, Turkish voters appear divided along the usual electoral lines. Public opinion surveys by Metropoll suggest that 80% of Justice and Development Party (AKP) voters are poised to back the constitutional amendments to install a presidential regime, while 90% of supporters from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Kurdish-dominated Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are readying to vote “no.” There is, however, a new dynamic afoot creating a climate of uncertainty different from those during previous run-ups to elections.

Voters seem well aware of the momentous decision they face, and the atmosphere is somehow reminiscent of the June 2015 elections in which popular discontent came to the fore, breaking partisan voting patterns and stripping the AKP of its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002. Today’s new dynamic flows essentially from Turkey’s conservative quarters, on which the ruling AKP and its partner in the constitutional changes, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), rely.

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