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News analysis: Turkish referendum approval leads to complex reactions

09-14-2010 09:28 BJT

ISTANBUL, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The aftermath of the national referendum on constitutional amendments in Turkey has been a contrast to the impassioned weeks leading up to vote. The victory of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the referendum indicates a big chance of winning the upcoming general elections in 2011.

On Sunday, the 30th anniversary of the 1980 coup that enacted the controversial current constitution, nearly 40 million citizens took to the ballot box to vote for a series of 26 constitutional amendments with an overwhelming 58 to 42 majority.

The country was heavily divided in the days and weeks leading up to the referendum, with the AKP supporting the constitutional changes and the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) vehemently against them.

The parties held massive "yes" rallies and "no" meetings throughout the country, bringing together tens of thousands and trying to outdo one another with each show of strength. Party leaders spoke at these rallies, praising their supporters and not hesitating to take swipes at each other.

Istanbul and all other major cities were lined with billboards calling for "yes" and warning for "no" in tune with party affiliation. One party, the ethnically-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), called for a boycott of the whole thing.

Supporters and detractors set up informational stands, distributed fliers, shouted slogans, posted passionate updates on facebook and twitter, and even occasionally broke out in violence.

Almost every figure in front of a microphone, from businessmen to Non-governmental Organization (NGO) heads and celebrities, was asked for whether they would vote yes or no, and applauded or booed accordingly.

On Sunday, everything fell silent. Of course political parties aren't allowed to campaign during voting time and press can't cover the election until after voting ends, but the ban on alcohol sales during election days might have also played a small role.

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