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Turkey detains Islamic State suspects over planned attacks

Turkey detains Islamic State suspects over planned attacks

Erdogan argues that as Turkey's first president to be directly elected by the people — instead of the parliament — he has a wider mandate than previous presidents.

"If only we could have instituted these changes years ago", he said during a campaign speech.

But as Erdogan settled into power, problems arose. And after a failed coup attempt, they also want a strong leader to quell future plots.

Opinion polls have given a narrow lead for backers of the proposal, which Erdogan has said was needed to confront Turkey's security and political challenges.

Many investors, though, say if he wins a popular mandate to formalize his grip on power, markets will bounce back, at least in the short term. Erdogan has accused European leaders of acting like Nazis for banning rallies on security grounds, while his opponents overseas say they have been spied on.

While he wants economic relations to continue, Turkey's stalled talks about joining the European Union look even more doubtful as does the deal to curb the flow of refugees from Syria travelling on to Europe. Turkey has sent troops into Syria to help opposition Syrian forces clear a border area from the threat posed by Islamic State militants. Turkey has yet to enjoy many of those benefits, including a visa-free travel for its citizens to Europe and accelerated talks for joining the EU. But gradually, laws were changed to make it easier for the ruling party to, for instance, make judicial appointments and enrich pro-government businesses with state contracts. Over the past nine months, the government has sacked a quarter of all judges and prosecutors over suspected Gulen links. More than 100,000 people have been fired or arrested, including more than 100 journalists. That raises the possibility of violence no matter what the final results are, particularly with last July's military coup attempt fresh in the public's memory.

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Some were believed to be planning an attack in Turkey ahead of Sunday's referendum, it added.

Erdogan views the HDP as the political wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which has waged a three-decade insurgency in the southeast and claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a police compound in Diyarbakir on Wednesday. Never in recent times has Turkey, one of only two Muslim members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military alliance, been so central to world affairs, from the fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, to Europe's migrant crisis and Ankara's shifting allegiances with Moscow and Washington. Some are eager to avoid a repeat of the deadlocked coalition governments that hindered growth in the 1990s and are exhausted of frequent military coups. It concludes, "If Mr Erdogan loses, Turkey will be a hard ally with a hard future". It's faultless. But I am anxious about the future after him.

The whole campaign has been held under a state of emergency.

Critics and analysts such as the Venice Commission, part of the Council of Europe, a 47-nation pact of European countries including Turkey, say it's "a unsafe step backwards in the constitutional democratic tradition of Turkey", warning of "the dangers of degeneration of the proposed system towards an authoritarian and personal regime".

Assuming the referendum passes, most of the changes it contains won't take effect until the next set of elections, due in 2019.

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