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Turkey At The Boiling Point

series: European Journal

air date: 6/11/13 5:00 AM

Turkey: Protest Tide - Opposition is growing against the Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan's hard-line stance. Voted into office by more than half the electorate, the minority in the country says his style is too authoritarian. For days now, hundreds of thousands of people have been demonstrating against his government in Turkey's largest cities. In many places, the protestors have clashed with police. In recent years, they say, he has ignored democratic values. They say he has ruled as he pleased by tightening up restrictions on drinking alcohol, carrying out enormous building projects regardless of the consequences, and having critical students and journalists arrested. Now, even within his own party, resistance against the head of government is growing. Poland: Endangered Shipyard - The famous Gdansk shipyard is once again in trouble. Its new Ukrainian operator has run out of money to pay wages. In its golden years, the 1980s, 17,000 people worked in Gdansk shipyard. Those times are long gone. The shipyard faced bankruptcy twice. Then a Ukrainian investor came along, and hopes blossomed. There were plans to build modern high tech ships and a factory for wind turbines. But the investor's plans haven't worked out, and the Solidarity trade union has taken industrial action. No more loans can be expected from private banks. The last hope lies in funding from the Polish government. **Denmark: Absolutely No Smoking - In Aarhus, Denmark's second-largest city, municipal employees are no longer allowed to take smoking breaks, so that taxpayers no longer have to foot the bill for them. Suddenly everything is different in Aarhus, at least for the 25,000 or so employees in its public offices and agencies. Since March they have been banned from smoking at work and on the grounds of municipal buildings. That's caused a stir in Denmark, and beyond the country's borders. France: Cultural Rift over Gay Marriage - The law has been passed, but the demonstrations against gay marriage in France continue. Far right parties in particular are jumping on the bandwagon. Legalizing gay marriage was one of President Francois Hollande's main campaign promises. Now the law is in force and the first same-sex couple has tied the knot in the southern city of Montpellier. But even though the law has been passed, it's still causing controversy, especially because of the issue of adoption rights for gay couples. Now a real cultural rift has opened up. Far right groups and parties in particular have joined what was originally a conservative middle class protest movement.

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