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Turkey HDP decries ‘siege on democracy’ as it unveils manifesto for Turkish elections

TURKEY’S People’s Democratic Party (HDP) launches its election manifesto in Ankara today, promising to rebuild the country’s democracy with “a new social contract” involving all layers of society.

Speaking at a press conference in Izmir, HDP co-chair Sezai Temelli said the party was campaigning for a stronger presence in parliament.

But he attacked the arbitrary 10 per cent threshold needed for candidates to be elected to Turkey’s Grand Assembly, branding it “a siege on democracy” and calling for it to be lowered.

In a historic breakthrough for a pro-Kurdish party, the HDP won 80 seats in the June 2015 general election, ending the Justice and Development Party (AKP) majority. 

Fresh elections were held in November that year, leading to the AKP and the ultranationalist MHP forming a coalition government. 

Next month’s snap parliamentary and presidential elections will take place under a state of emergency that has been in place since a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

Following a widely criticised referendum last year, Turkey is set to move from a parliamentary democracy to a presidential system with unprecedented powers concentrated in the hands of incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including the right to dissolve parliament and rule by decree.

However, Mr Temelli said Mr Erdogan is losing support due to his increasingly dictatorial rule with the country’s economy in crisis.

“We are seeing every day the opposition is growing to this one-man system. People have said: ‘Enough,’ even in social media. It is time to change. 

“We are saying: ‘Together we can change this.’ We can make this go away,” he said.

Mr Temelli insisted there could be “no solution for Turkey without the HDP,” accusing President Erdogan’s war in the Afrin area of northern Syria of damaging the public finances.

“The way to overcome the economic crisis is actually a democracy programme,” he insisted.

Mr Temelli confirmed that the party was appealing for its jailed presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas to be released to take part in the elections.

Mr Demirtas faces 142 years in prison on trumped-up charges of terrorism. His latest court hearing is due on Thursday.

Mr Temelli said: “Turkey needs a new social contract. All sections of society need to come together and write a social contract,” adding that it should be “a bridge between all sections of society, a space in which to build a common citizen democratic republic where we can all live together.”

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