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POLITICS > Turkish Parliament adopts 'democracy package,' goes to recess

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Parliament finalized a heavy-scheduled plenary on Saturday before going to recess ahead of the local polls, adopting a “democratization package” that introduces the right to political campaigning in languages other than Turkish.

Having recently geared up legislative measures against what it calls the “parallel state” that is accused of plotting against it through corruption claims, the government seems to have ended its legislative campaign with the adoption of “democratization package” on Saturday. The bill was first submitted to Parliament early December.

Parliament has gone to recess until March 26 due to the looming local elections on March 30.  

The democratization package that was first announced by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 30, 2013 was seen as an attempt to recover the tarnished image of the government due to the Gezi Park protests. Here are some of the most important aspects of the adopted bill:

- Political parties and candidates will be able to use any language or dialect in all forms of campaigning, thus legalizing material in Kurdish. Bans on Kurdish names for settlement places are also being lifted.

- Political parties will be able to implement a co-leadership system, on the condition of having such a system in their party statute and having no more than two co-leaders.

- Political parties that receive more than 3 percent of the total number of valid votes cast in a general parliamentary election will receive treasury funds. The fund will be no less than 1 million Turkish Liras. This arrangement will enable the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to receive a treasury fund.

- Preventing the announcement of religious beliefs, opinions and convictions either by force or by other illegal acts will be sentenced with jail terms of from one to three years. The same sentences will be applied to those who intervene in a person’s choices about lifestyle based on his belief, opinion or convictions.

- The punishments for the hate and discrimination of different languages, religions, races, nationalities, political understandings and sects will be increased to between one and three years in prison. Religious lifestyles will be protected through constitutional amendments that increase the punishments for those who abuse the rights of people for praying and participating in religious ceremonies.

March/02/2014

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