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Erdogan counts on divisive campaign ahead of key vote

The pro-constitutional amendment campaign ahead of Turkey’s critical April referendum is exposing the true spirit of the presidential regime that Erdogan wants to install.
Lawmakers from ruling AK Party and the main opposition CHP scuffle during a debate on the proposed constitutional changes at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara, Turkey, January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RTX2YN0M

Nine parties are currently eligible to run in Turkey's elections. Four of them — the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) — are represented in parliament. The others include the nationalist Great Union Party, the neo-nationalist Kemalist Patriotic Party (VP) and three Islamist outfits — the Felicity Party (SP), the Independent Turkey Party and the Kurdish-dominated Free Cause Party (Huda-Par).

From the nine parties’ positions on the April 16 referendum, the battle lines are emerging ahead of the critical vote. The plebiscite will determine whether the constitution will be changed to replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with an executive presidency designed to grant sweeping powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The yes camp, led by the AKP and the MHP, has been joined by Huda-Par. The naysayers, meanwhile, have emerged as a rather heterogeneous group. The CHP, HDP, VP and SP, which have all announced they will campaign against the changes, represent a motley crew of social democratic, neonationalist, Kurdish and Islamist forces.

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