Turkish Parliament adopts democracy package, goes to recess

Turkish Parliament adopts democracy package, goes to recess

Turkish Parliament finalized a heavy-scheduled plenary on Saturday and went to recess until the local polls following the adoption of "democratization package" that brings about the right to political campaign in one's mother language, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Gearing up legislative measures against what it calls the "parallel state" that is strongly accused of plotting against the government through corruption and graft claims, the government seems to have ended its legislative campaign with the adoption of "democratization package" on Saturday, although the bill was first submitted to Parliament early December.

Parliament's acting president Sadik Yakut declared that Parliament went to recess until March 26 due to looming local elections in which lawmakers will also be heavily preoccupied.

The democratization package which was announced by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sep. 30, 2013 was seen as a remedy for the tarnished image of the Turkish government due to Gezi Parki protests which have received strong reactions from the European Union and other western human rights institutions. Here are some important aspects of the adopted bill:

- Political parties and candidates will be able to use any language or dialect in all forms of promotion, making material in Kurdish possible. 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 not having 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 use of freedom to announce religious beliefs, opinions and convictions either by force or by another illegal act will be sentenced for one year up to three years' imprisonment. The same sentences will be applied to those who intervene in a person's choices about lifestyle based on his belief, opinion or convictions and force this person to change their choices.

- The punishments for the hate and discrimination against different language, religion, race, nationality, political understanding and sect of people will be increased between 1 and 3 years of prsion sentence. Life style of people will be protected through constitutional amendments that increase the punishments for ones who abuse the rights of people for praying and participating in religious ceremonies.

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