October 30, 2015

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish political parties on Friday made their closing appeals ahead of Sunday’s crucial parliamentary election.

The contest is a redo of a June election in which the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, lost its majority after 13 years of single-party rule. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for new elections after his appointed prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, failed to form a coalition with any of the three opposition parties represented in parliament.

Opposition parties, however, accuse Erdogan of acting behind the scenes to scupper the coalition efforts in the hope that the ruling party can win back its majority in the repeat election. The ballot comes amid ever increasing instability in neighboring Syria and Iraq and as Turkey grapples with more than 2 million refugees, though the latter hasn’t been much of an issue.

As he sought a rebound, Davutoglu campaigned in his home city of Konya on Friday. With the country gripped by violence, he emphasized security at home. “We will one by one defeat the terror and the negative reflection of the conflict in the region,” he said.

Supporters chanted “Alone!” in support of the party ruling without a coalition partner. “This is a vote on Turkey’s future,” Davutoglu said. “It’s almost a referendum. You will decide on whether Turkey will continue to rise.”

The main secularist opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, campaigning in his party’s stronghold, Izmir, promised to restore Turkey’s relations with neighbors and the Arab world. “Our relations with the Arabs have soured, our ties with Egypt have soured, our ties with Libya have soured. We are quarrelling with Syria,” Kilicdaroglu said. “They say ‘Our exports have dropped.’ Well you haven’t left us with any neighbors. They say ‘Tourists don’t come.’ Why would they come?”

The election comes amid a breakdown in the once hopeful peace process between the government and Kurdish militants. Campaigning on Friday in Istanbul, Selahattin Demirtas of the main Kurdish HDP party cast the election as a referendum on Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for the last 13 years.

“Our country is now at a crossroads,” he said. “Turkey will head toward a one-man system and oppressive dictatorial regime or it will head toward a road that heads to democracy.”

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