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Campaigning Ends Before Turkish Elections


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan throws roses to his supporters after a speech in Istanbul, June 11, 2011.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan throws roses to his supporters after a speech in Istanbul, June 11, 2011.

Campaigning is ending ahead of Turkey's parliamentary elections Sunday, with the ruling Islamic-rooted party expected to come out on top.

Political parties held their final rallies Saturday. Polls open Sunday at 7 am (0400 GMT) in the country's eastern provinces, and an hour later in the west.

Boosted by a booming economy and rising power on the world stage, Prime Minister's Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Justice and Development party now hopes to gain a crucial two-thirds majority in parliament, which would allow it to change the constitution.

AK party candidate Volkan Bozkir said Friday that a new constitution would enshrine the rights of minorities, such as the Kurds who have been fighting for autonomy in eastern Turkey.

But Erdogan's critics say that his political goal is to create a more presidential-style government with him in control.

And there are claims that Erdogan already is abusing his power, as well as moving away from a secular state to a more conservative, Islamic form of government.

Opposition CHP Republican People's Party candidate Oguz Kaan Salici, says the government is becoming increasingly intolerant.

He accuses the government of pressuring media groups, journalists and ordinary citizens critical of the government.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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