Reducing threshold a must, says Turkish opposition

Reducing threshold a must, says Turkish opposition

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Reducing threshold a must, says Turkish opposition

CHP deputy head Tanrıkulu says the election threshold and detention periods should be included in new reforms. DHA photo

A package of reforms that does not reduce the 10 percent election threshold cannot be considered a “democratization package,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy head Sezgin Tanrıkulu has said, also criticizing the government for not moving to end long detention periods.

“A package that does not include reducing the election threshold, that does not bring new proposals on [the problem of long] imprisonment, that does not broaden the scope of freedom of speech, and that does not renew laws on freedom of assembly, cannot be considered a democratization package,” Tanrıkulu told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.

His statement was a response to Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, who said the government was of the opinion that 10 percent election threshold should be preserved for political stability in Turkey.

All political parties, whether represented at Parliament or not, apart from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), are in favor of a lower election threshold between three and seven percent. The government, instead, is mulling over overhauling entire election system by adopting a narrowed constituency system which, according to many analysts, would work to the advantage of the ruling party.

The government is still working on a democratization package that is expected to be finalized in days and introduced to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will have the last word. The package is believed to be linked to the resolution process aiming at ending the decades-long terror problem through negotiations with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but the government does not accept these claims.

“There is no need for such a package. It’s sufficient for the government to support legal proposals introduced by the CHP if they want to move forward in their democratization claim,” Tanrıkulu said. The CHP has submitted a number of proposals to Parliament on such issues recently.

Detention periods

Another important breach of human rights is long imprisonment periods, Tanrıkulu added, recalling that the Constitutional Court had criticized long detention periods in a recent court verdict and called on Parliament to deal with the issue within a year.

“There are people who are still behind bars because of some legal arrangements, in violation of constitutional orders. My call is to Parliament to convene [in an extraordinary session] to solve this problem by making a new regulation and then to go recess again. People cannot be held in prison because of Parliament’s inaction,” he stressed. Two CHP lawmakers, Mustafa Balbay and İbrahim Haberal, have been behind bars for nearly four years without conviction, on charges of being members of Ergenekon, an alleged illegal organization that attempted to topple the AKP government in 2003 and 2004.

PM praises police for ‘patience‘

Meanwhile, Tanrıkulu also slammed the prime minister over his unwavering support for the police expressed in his address to riot police late Wednesday. “Mr. Prime Minister praised the riot police for ‘patience’ [against Gezi Parkı activists]. The death toll as a result of this ‘patience’ is five, including one policeman. Eleven citizens have lost one of their eyes, hundreds of people have been seriously wounded. What would have happened if security forces had not been so patient?” he asked. Tanrıkulu also mentioned a letter signed by prominent international figures published in The Times newspaper, saying that Erdoğan’s undemocratic rule is receiving global reactions.