A MEMBER of the Turkish parliament spoke on the country’s recent democratisation package at an event organised by Ceftus, the Centre for Turkey Studies.
Mehmet Emin Ekmen, an MP with the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), said at the event hosted by Andy Love, the Labour MP for Edmonton, that Ceftus provided a significant bridge between Turkey and the UK, and a valuable platform for the exchange of information and views about the developments in Turkey.
Mr Ekmen’s audience included guests of all backgrounds from Turkey and other countries.
COMMITTED TO DEMOCRACY
Mr Ekmen stated that “by announcing this package, the government has reiterated its commitment to the reconciliation process with the Kurds”.
Talks between the Kurdish factions and the government had stalled in the past few months, leading to statements from Kurdish factions that the government was not making the necessary legal reforms for the negotations between the two sides to progress.
Mehmet Emin Ekmen claimed that both proposals to reform the electoral system satisfied the criticisms of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), that the electoral system in Turkey was not actually representative.
The electoral threshold currently in place requires a party to obtain 10% of the votes to enter into parliament. The democratization package opened this sytem to discussion in parliament and proposed two options for a new electoral structure. The first option lowers the electoral threshold to 5% and creates narrowed electoral constituencies with 5 seats. The second, removes the electoral threshold and proposes a narrow constituency model.
MANY CHALLANGES AHEAD
According to Mr Ekmen, “the only difficulty is not the internal power dynamics, but also the government’s need to balance the seven geographical sections and four main constituencies under one party”.
MR Ekmen said that the AKP recieved heavy criticism for removing the morning oath from the schools, and that it was accused of eliminating Turkishness.
His response to the criticisms that the package was limited in scope pointed to the existing constitution. He argued that “this was all we could do with this constitution”. He added the government would be announcing more packages in the future.