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Green Left Party vows in election manifesto to build ‘strong local democracy’ in Turkey

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The Green Left Party (YSP), under whose banner the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will run in the parliamentary elections slated for May 14, has promised in its election manifesto to build a “strong local democracy” in Turkey, local media reported.

In a bid to circumvent the risks that could emerge from its possible closure ahead of the elections, HDP co-Chairperson Mithat Sancar announced last week that his party would run in the elections under the banner of the YSP, saying that past experience with the closure of pro-Kurdish parties has led to that solution.

The HDP is facing a closure case on terrorism charges that was filed in March 2021 and could be concluded before the elections since the Constitutional Court, which is hearing the case, has rejected the HDP’s request to delay the verdict until after the elections.

The YSP on Thursday released its election manifesto titled “We Are Here, We Will Change [Turkey] Together” and vowed to replace the country’s current presidential system of governance with a democratic system that includes a pluralist parliament with broad powers, an effective separation of powers and a working system of checks and balances.

“We are coming to build a strong local democracy in which the separation of powers expands towards the local, the delegation of authority and resources to local governments is secured, [and] central authority over local governments is ended,” the YSP said in the manifesto.

Pledges regarding ecology policy, rights and freedoms and economic development were mentioned in the manifesto. These included the removal of lockout as a constitutional and legal arrangement, giving the right to social security and retirement benefits to domestic workers and reinstatement of the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty to combat violence against women.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked outrage in Turkey and the international community after he issued a decree in March 2021 that pulled the country out of the international treaty, which requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting perpetrators of domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.

The party further promised to end the closure of political parties, abolish the election threshold, eliminate regulations that prevent the public’s right to access information through the restricting of bandwidth and remove the crime of “insulting the president” from the law.

Thousands of people in Turkey are under investigation, and most of them are under the threat of imprisonment, over alleged insults of President Erdoğan. The insult cases generally stem from social media posts shared by Erdoğan opponents. The Turkish police and judiciary perceive even the most minor criticism of Erdoğan or his government as an insult.

The HDP’s Sancar, who made the opening speech at the announcement event in Ankara on Thursday, said they were determined and powerful enough to “change this order that exploits nature, enslaves women and holds youth captive” and build the future together, under the roof of an equal and free democratic republic.

“We will end the AKP-MHP [the Nationalist Movement Party] regime on May 14. … We will save Turkey from this darkness,” Pervin Buldan, the other co-chair of the HDP, also said during the event.

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