|Tuesday, 19 January 2021|
Turkish Press Review, 07-05-11
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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
11.05.2007FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS
 PARLIAMENT PASSES PACKAGE OF CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES, INCLUDING POPULAR ELECTION OF PRESIDENTConstitutional amendments proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) were passed swiftly in Parliament yesterday, with help of addition backing from the opposition Motherland Party (ANAVATAN). The reform package proposes holding general elections every four years instead of the current five, election of the president by the people for a five- year term, down from the current seven, and allowing the president to serve two terms. Another measure would enable Parliament to convene with a minimum of 184 deputies, thus lowering the current two-thirds quorum of 367. Furthermore, the lawmakers also voted to allow independent candidates to appear on ballots. But a measure lowering the eligible age to be elected a deputy from 30 to 25 for the current election was taken out of the package, leaving a decision on the matter to the Supreme Board of Elections (YSK). A law to lower the age was passed last fall, but it is unclear if it applies to the July elections. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who holds veto power over legislation, could decide to veto the measure or take it to a referendum. Sezer has already spoken against the change, saying the time isn't right due to ongoing political tension. /Aksam/
 COUNCIL OF STATE CELEBRATES 139TH ANNIVERSARYThe 139th anniversary of the Council of State was celebrated yesterday in a ceremony held in Ankara. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, State Ministers Abdullatif Sener and Mehmet Ali Sahin, Justice Minister Fahri Kasirga and opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal were present at the gathering. Speaking to the ceremony, the council's Chief Justice Sumru Coroglu stressed the importance of judicial independence, calling it the first principle of the rule of law and the guarantor of personal rights and freedoms. /Turkiye/
 ITALIAN PRESIDENT: "TURKEY'S EU MEMBERSHIP BID ISN'T A RELIGIOUS ISSUE"Turkey's prospective European Union membership shouldn't be considered a geographical or religious issue, said Italian President Giorgio Napolitano yesterday. Speaking at the Italian Presidential Palace, he also brushed aside objections such as Turkey's location in Asia Minor or its majority- Muslim population. He added that on the contrary, Turkey's bid should be seen as a new opportunity to foster dialogue between civilizations and cultures. /Milliyet/
 BAYAR PROMOTES DEFENSE INDUSTRY TIES WITH ITALY, THE USDefense Industry Undersecretary Murad Bayar said yesterday that Turkey's defense industry could establish new partnerships with its counterparts in Europe and the US. Speaking at a meeting organized by Italian defense group Finmeccanica in Ankara, Bayar said that defense industry cooperation between Turkey and Italy has the potential to grow stronger. In addition, Giorgia Zappa, a top official at Finmeccanica, emphasized the importance of defense industry cooperation projects between Turkey and Italy, adding that Italian helicopter producer Agusta would decide on a new mid-size civilian helicopter investment in Turkey. /Hurriyet/
 HOLBROOKE: "IN ITS ELECTIONS, TURKEY SHOULD SHOW HOW IT CHERISHES THE RULE OF LAW"In its upcoming general elections, Turkey should demonstrate to the world that it holds the rule of law supreme, said former US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke yesterday. Speaking at a conference co-organized by Sabanci University and the Brookings Institution in Washington, Holbrooke said that the current meaning of being a Westerner was very different than during the early days of the Turkish Republic, adding that Turkey's relations with the West could be influenced by the nation's recent political crisis. During the conference, the Sakip Sabanci International Research Awards were also handed out. /Milliyet/
 GEN. BASBUG: "WE'LL ELIMINATE THE TERRORIST PKK"Visiting the southeastern province of Sirnak yesterday to inspect troops deployed in the region, Land Forces Commander Gen. Ilker Basbug said that the Turkish security forces were set on destroying the terrorist group PKK, and that their fight would continue with determination. Speaking to reporters during a visit to Governor Selahattin Apari at his office, Basbug said that neither the terrorists nor their supporters could reach their goals. Calling on people not to support the terrorist group, Basbug said that it is the residents of the region who suffer the most from terror. /Star/
 PAMUK AWARDED HONORARY DOCTORATENobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk yesterday was awarded an honorary doctorate by Brussels' Catholic University. Speaking at the event, Rector Mark Van Hoecke said that she was enjoying reading Pamuk's books in translation. In related news, Pamuk's "Istanbul: Memories and the City" was number four on the bestseller list of FNAC, France's largest bookstore chain, the day its French translation hit the market. The memoir, published as "Istanbul: Souvenirs d'une Ville," is expected to climb to number one. /Milliyet/
FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS
 A DYNAMIC TOWARDS DEMOCRACY?BY HALUK SAHIN (RADIKAL)
Columnist Haluk Sahin comments on Turkey's election system and representative democracy. A summary of his column is as follows:
"Here is an important political question (or should I say opportunity?) now facing Turkey: Could the will of the masses expected to flock to tomorrow's protest rally in Izmir be harnessed to fuel the democratic reform Turkey needs so badly? Or can Turkey move towards modernizing its democracy thanks to this internal dynamic, the pressure the masses have unexpectedly brought to bear?
Professor Turkan Saylan, who I appeared alongside the other night on television, believes this is possible, and links the increasing search for women candidates to this. Saylan thinks this trend will continue. 'This spring, masses intervened in political democratization, and they won't give this up,' says Saylan, 'Especially the women filling the streets in the protests will demand and ask for account from now on.' I hope that she's right...
We know that the main reason behind the need for political reform is the deep crisis of representation.
Here's what I mean by representation crisis: We claim that our style of governance is representative democracy, but right now the will of the people can't be fully reflected in Parliament. This problem stems from the election system's 10% threshold. Due to this threshold, the votes of the nearly half of the people are discarded, as a result of which millions of people aren't represented in Parliament. Moreover, they don't have their own deputies owing to the election system. We even don't know the names of those representing us.
That isn't all. Half of our population is made up of women, but the rate of women parliamentarians is only 4.4 %.
What about the young people? Half of our population is under the age of 25, but you can't find a single parliamentarian of that age. A constitutional change enabling those as young as 25 to be elected has yet to be approved.
As for our nearly 5 million citizens living abroad, it's very hard for them to vote. They are far from not only our country, but also from the polls.
Furthermore, minorities recognized under the Treaty of Lausanne - i.e. Greeks, Armenians and Jews - aren't fully represented in our system. Alevis and Kurdish citizens also complain that their votes aren't reflected in Parliament, as they want.
So can we really say that our system, which fails to reflect the will of such a large and important group of people, should be called representative?"
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