The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
UNDECIDED VOTERS WILL DETERMINE THE RESULT OF REFERENDUM, POLLS SHOW
A narrow majority of Turks plan to vote "Yes" in a Sunday referendum on government-backed constitutional reforms but undecided voters could sway the outcome in the other direction, a new poll showed.
The referendum is being seen as an important gauge of support for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Party ahead of a 2011 parliamentary election.
The survey by private pollster A&G showed that 51% of respondents planned to vote "Yes" to the reforms and 49% planned to vote against them. The poll said 10-11% of voters were undecided.
"The winner of the referendum will be whoever motivates the voters to go out and vote," A&G director Adil Gur told Taraf daily. "It will be a tight result. It's not going to be a surprise if 'no' wins," Gur said.
Turkish asset prices may move little if Turks approve constitutional changes by a modest margin, while markets will suffer if the result of the vote is "No."
Erdogan says the reform package will bring the [Turkish] constitution, drafted after a 1980 military coup, closer in line with those in the European Union, which Turkey seeks to join.
The 26-article reform package includes changes in how senior judges are selected. Opposition parties in parliament oppose the reforms and argue that they will enable the government to boost its influence over the judiciary.
A "No" would be a serious blow to the government's reform plans and would hurt AK party morale going into the parliamentary election, which is due by July 2011.
Following is a breakdown of recent opinion polls:
Yes: 51 percent
No: 49 percent
Poll conducted on August 28-20, based on responses from
3,681 families in 46 provinces, with a margin of error of plus
or minus 1-1.5 percent.
Yes: 49.6 percent
No: 33.6 percent
Undecided, not voting or no reply: 16.8 pct
Poll conducted on Aug. 5-11 in 30 provinces, based on
responses from 1,516 people, with a margin of error of plus or
minus 2.5 percent.
Yes: 49.13 percent
No: 50.87 percent
Poll conducted on Aug. 1-9 in 25 provinces, based on
responses from 4,000 people, with a margin of error of plus or
minus 1.5 percent.
Yes: 56.2 percent
No: 43.8 percent
Poll conducted on July 31-Aug 8 in 16 provinces, based on
responses from 2,274 people. No margin of error was available.
THE AMENDMENT PACKAGE AND ITS PUBLIC AS WELL AS SECRET ELEMENTS [ARE] A CIVIL COUP
According to Emre Kongar, the amendment package, proposed by the AKP, constitutes a civil coup against democracy.
He stresses that the government aims to exert its influence on the Constitutional Court, thus annulling the most important guarantee of democracy, which is the independence of the judiciary. However, by diverting the subject matter, the AKP successfully deceives the people about their real intentions.
ERGIN: JUDICIARY WILL NOT BE 'UNDER SIEGE' IF PACKAGE APPROVED
Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has said that opposition parties' claims that the judicial system will be "under siege" by supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] are unfounded as the Constitutional Court has already approved the reform package.
TURKIC WORLD TO COME TOGETHER UNDER ONE ROOF
Turkish President Abdullah Gul's efforts have brought results. "The Cooperation Council of Turkish-Speaking States" will convene. The foundation summit of the organization will take place in Istanbul on September 15 and 16.
BDP PLAN TO BOYCOTT SCHOOLS DRAWS CRITICISM
The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which is urging its supporters to boycott an upcoming referendum on constitutional amendments, is also planning to boycott schools in order to bring attention to the right to be educated in one's mother tongue, a move criticized by many circles.
Republican People's Party [CHP] chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu addressed an enthusiastic group in the Aegean province of Izmir, where he came with his wife Selvi. During the party rally, Kilicdaroglu pressed on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and said, "we have not exploited anything, and we will not do so."
Kilicdaroglu said, "we will be beside our people, and we will seek justice and rights. Let you give us authority and power so that we pay Turkey's way. Say 'no' to the referendum, and pave the way for change and democracy."
WE WILL NOT BE [TRAMPLED ON]
Supreme Court of Appeals President Hasan Gerceker spoke at the ceremony held for the beginning of new judicial year. Gerceker's remarks came only six day before a referendum during which Turkey will vote for or against constitutional amendments. Gerceker strongly criticized the amendments and said, "the amendments abolish the principle of separation of powers and independence of judiciary. They harm state of law. They hamper the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors [HSYK] so that the board cannot work. They politicize [the] judiciary." He also said, "[the] judiciary is neither the backyard nor the front yard of any one and will never be so. Turkish judiciary will never let anybody to [treat it] so."
"GOVERNMENT ASKED [ME] FOR FAVORS"
Kadir Ozbek, acting chairman of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, accused cabinet members of asking him to pull strings during [the] appointments of judges and prosecutors. Ozbek said he got phone calls and notes from several people, including a deputy chairman of the ruling Justice & Development (AK) Party, a parliamentary committee chairman and a senior lawmaker, for appointments of judges and prosecutors.