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Bitter Campaign Heats Up in Turkey Ahead of Snap Election

  • Henry Ridgwell

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), delivers his speech at a rally in Istanbul, Oct. 25, 2015, ahead of the Nov. 1 general elections.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), delivers his speech at a rally in Istanbul, Oct. 25, 2015, ahead of the Nov. 1 general elections.

Turkey will hold its second general election of this year November 1, after the ruling AK party failed to gain a majority during the last election in June and talks to form a coalition government failed. Analysts say there is a high possibility that the election will have an indecisive result.

The call to prayer echoes across the Faith district of Istanbul from its 15th century mosque. In the streets outside, many of the women wear the Niqab, the full Islamic veil.

This is the most conservative district of Istanbul – a world apart from the bars and bright lights downtown.

On a side street near the mosque, Arife Guven sells traditional Islamic clothing. She is passionate in her support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK party.

"Now we can open and attend Islamic courses to study the Quran; our women can go to university wearing headscarves," Guven said. "As long as President Erdogan is in power, we can stand proud."

Political parties in Turkey must exceed a 10 percent threshold to win seats in parliament. The pro-Kurdish HDP won 13 percent of the vote in the June election - depriving a majority to the AK Party, whose share of the vote fell by 8 percent.

FILE - Supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, (HDP) wave a flag, center, with Turkish Republic founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and others of imprisoned Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, during a rally in Istanbul, Turkey.

FILE - Supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, (HDP) wave a flag, center, with Turkish Republic founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and others of imprisoned Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, during a rally in Istanbul, Turkey.

HDP supporter Sakir Avci said that result prompted a backlash from the AK Party. He said they started to say there’s no peace process with the Kurds.

"Erdogan started to act like it’s all about him and no one else," Avci said.

Several coalitions were discussed after the June election – but the talks failed. Mehmet Solmaz, news editor of the Daily Sabah newspaper, says compromise would be positive.

“A failure of the ruling AK Party to form a single party government would probably lead to a coalition government with the secularist CHP, the Republican People’s Party," he said. " And that would probably mend some ties among the people.”

One of the biggest obstacles to such a grand coalition is Syria. President Erdogan wants regime change in Damascus. The CHP party disagrees.

Cetin Ozkaynak, a party member, said that forcing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power would mean weakening Syria.

"If we enter government, we won’t touch Syrian politics," he said.

Compromise will be needed to form any coalition. A repeat of the acrimony following June’s election could plunge Turkey into political crisis.

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