Turkey may cut vote threshold, expand language rights

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 30, 2013 6:30 AM
Turkey may cut vote threshold, expand language rights

By Jonathon Burch

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey may reduce the threshold for a political party to enter parliament to 5 percent of the national vote, or even eliminate the barrier completely, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

The current 10 percent threshold has kept pro-Kurdish groupings outside of parliament and a reform that may help advance a flagging peace process with Kurdish militants.

In a major policy speech, Erdogan also said the so-called "democratization package" would allow for education in languages other than Turkish at non-state schools, a long-held demand by Kurdish politicians and activists.

Erdogan has repeatedly said he proposed reforms are not directly linked with efforts to end the 29-year conflict with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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But the changes should go some way towards addressing Kurdish grievances after the PKK declared a ceasefire in March.

"Our people's greatest wish is to strengthen our domestic peace, to develop our social unity and coherence will fortify our tranquility," Erdogan said.

(Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Angus MacSwan)