A taste of Turkey's tense elections

  • 29 March 2014
  • From the section Europe

Turkey will hold important local elections on Sunday, seen as a key test of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's leadership. The BBC's James Reynolds went to pro- and anti-government rallies in Istanbul ahead of the vote.

Mr Erdogan has been battered by a political storm over alleged corruption. He has cracked down on social media, calling leaked recordings part of an anti-government "plot".

Pro- and anti-government factions have held rival demonstrations. The opposition in Istanbul tends to congregate at Taksim Square, in the heart of the city.

In May 2013, protesters took the government by surprise by occupying the square and nearby Gezi Park. The police evicted them two weeks later.

Riot police now maintain a permanent presence in the square, to prevent protesters from retaking the area.

But, as we found, this does not stop demonstrators from attempting to march.

By contrast, pro-government supporters do not have to worry about tear gas or water cannon.

The ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party often organises transport for its members to ensure a large turnout at Mr Erdogan's events.

We went along to one rally in Istanbul.

Camera/editing: Goktay Koraltan. Producer: Zeynep Erdim

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