MESOP REPORT: ERDOGAN COLLECTS VOTERS IN DIYARBAKIR – Erdogan to campaign in Diyarbakir as polls suggest neck and neck race

By Rudaw 1 hour ago – 31 March 2017 – DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to arrive in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir Saturday to take part in campaign rallies for the April 16 referendum on the country’s constitution.Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supports the amendments while the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), that has its base in Diyarbakir, has opposed the changes.

Erdogan’s trip to the troubled Kurdish province comes days after a respected polling outlet found that the gap had narrowed between the two opposing camps with 51 percent of voters in favor of a “no” vote. According to polls conducted by the Gezici Reseach, the “yes” camp had grown by 7 percent since January to 49 percent, while the “no” votes had lost 7 percent during the same period.The polling company said that the changes are likely due to the fact that 45 percent of young voters have said they will refrain from voting. Of 28 recent public opinion polls, 12 have predicted a ‘no’ vote and eight ‘yes,’ Turkish news outlet T24 found. This has given Erdogan renewed hopes of winning.

Around 18 percent of registered voters said in February that they had not decided how to vote. Large numbers of undecided votes live in Kurdish provinces where tensions are still running high between the army and Kurdish guerrillas.

The proposed constitutional changes would effectively abolish the position of prime minister, give the president the power to appoint and remove ministers, and hold the leadership of a political party while in office. It would also allow Erdogan to possibly stay in power until 2029.  Rudaw’s correspondent in Diyarbakir Mehdi Mutlu said the president will campaign in an area on Saturday where ongoing military operations against have alienated many voters.“There are still thousands of government opponents in prisons including hundreds of city officials. There are still curfews in place in many areas and many neighborhoods have been partly or completely destroyed resulting in mass migration of people from the region to other areas. All of these have an impact when voters go to the polling stations in April 16,” Mutlu said. According to the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), at the start of this year, 8,711 members and supporters of their party have been detained and 2,705 have been arrested since July 2015, when the peace process between Ankara and the PKK fell apart and the conflict renewed.