Turkish voters on September 12 will cast ballots on a constitutional referendum that has encouraged the polarization of society, and has taken on the appearance of a vote of confidence in the country's charismatic prime minister.
The referendum falls on the 30th anniversary of the most brutal of the country's three military coups, and the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has cast it as an exorcism of historic demons. "No country has ever managed to join the European Union with a coup constitution", said Egemen Bagis, Chief Negotiator for European Union accession talks, referring to the current charter, pushed through in 1982 by generals. "This is a historic turning point."
Government opponents, meanwhile, see the proposed changes as a ploy by the former Islamist leaders of the AKP to tighten their grip on state institutions.
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