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Europe remains critical of Turkey's 10 percent election threshold

STRASBOURG - Hürriyet Daily News | 6/10/2011 12:00:00 AM | KAYHAN KARACA

Turkey should have lowered the 10 percent threshold for political parties to be voted into Parliament ahead of the June 12 general election, a Council of Europe report has said.

Turkey should have lowered the 10 percent threshold for political parties to be voted into Parliament ahead of the June 12 general election, a Council of Europe report has said.

In the section of the report devoted to Turkey, Swiss parliamentarian Dick Marty, a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, or PACE, expressed regret that “the threshold of 10 percent ... has not been decreased despite numerous recommendations of the assembly and will still be in place for the next parliamentary elections June 12.”

There are still significant problems in Turkey, according to the report, which covers the EU candidate country’s progress from June 2010 to May 2011 in meeting European norms on democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

In particular, it notes the length of pre-trial detention proceedings, the functioning of the judicial system, restrictions on freedom of expression, the execution of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and a number of questions related to national minorities and minority languages as issues that continue to raise concerns.

“Even if the [Sept. 12, 2010, constitutional] referendum did not fully comply with the relevant recommendations of the Venice Commission, insofar as several amendments had been put to a vote that required a single response, its outcome nevertheless constituted a step forward in the democratic process in the country,” the report, released under the auspices of PACE’s Monitoring Committee, also said.

Turkey has been engaged since 2004 in a post-monitoring dialogue with PACE in its efforts to ensure full respect for democracy, the rule of law and protection of human rights. The Venice Commission is an advisory body of the Council of Europe that deals with constitutional law.

A 26-member delegation from PACE led by Swedish parliamentarian Kerstin Lundgren will observe Sunday’s elections in the Turkish cities of Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya, Diyarbakır, İzmir, Trabzon and Van.

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