Final political rallies before Turkish referendum

Final political rallies before Turkish referendum
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With an election due next year, this weekend’s referendum on constitutional reform in Turkey is being seen as a vote of confidence on the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

And judging by the size of the crowd at his last rally before Sunday’s vote, Erdogan does not have a lot to worry about.

A “yes” vote will finally detach Turkey from the last vestiges of autocratic rule and go some way to helping Turkey’s bid to join the EU.

But opposition parties say the changes will give the muslim-rooted governing AK Party too much sway over the judiciary.

A “no” vote is likely to galvanise the secular opposition Republican People’s Party, led by Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

There were shocking scenes, meanwhile, at a rally in Bursa when an ultra-nationalist protestor headbutted a deputy.

Akin Burdal was urging supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party to boycott Sunday’s vote when he was attacked.

Scuffles erupted and the outraged crowd hurled stones at the police, accusing them of not protecting Birdal.

Meanwhile, in Istanbul, police fired into the air to disperse several hundred pro-Kurdish demonstrators who had gathered in one of the city’s central squares.

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