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Tensions Rise in Turkey Election Drive

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TEHRAN, June 4 (ICANA) – As election campaign has increased the ongoing tension among different political groups in the Turkish society, the incidents in the Black Sea town of Hopa has further ignited the delicate situation.
Saturday, June 04, 2011 11:24:54 AM
Tensions Rise in Turkey Election Drive

The clashes between political groups in Hopa on Tuesday left a retired schoolteacher dead and one police officer in a coma.

Instead of ramping down their rhetoric for the June 12 elections, political leaders, to win over voters' emotions, are blaming each other for the Hopa incidents. While some blame the election campaign for the increasing tension in the country, many academic experts say growing intolerance is at the root of the problem, the daily Hurriyet reported Friday.

“We always had structural polarizations in Turkey but this election is extremely important,” said sociologist and political-science theorist Yucel Demirer. “Both the changing of the Turkish Constitution and the Kurdish issue, which needs to be addressed immediately, are critical factors. That's why party leaders are quite tense.”

“Whether they accept it or not, the main opposition Republican People's Party [CHP] is going through a significant change. The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party [BDP], is also becoming stronger in the eastern provinces. Even if the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] wins the election, all these factors are making the ruling party nervous, which increases the tension,” Demirer added.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the protesters “bandits” while the CHP and MHP blamed the ruling party and Erdogan for the excessive force used by police.

Tensions further rose between the AKP and the BDP during Erdogan's visits to eastern and southeastern provinces where many shopkeepers closed their doors in protest.

According to polls, Erdogan is expected to win more than 50 percent of the votes in the June 12 parliamentary elections.

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