Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Closure Case Accepted

Yesterday morning the Constitutional Court voted unanimously 11-0 to accept the AKP closure case. A decision to consider banning President Gül from politics was accepted by a vote of 7-4 as some judges apparently had concerns about the Court's ability to take a sitting president to task for any other act other than treason (as designated by the constitution). There has been much question as to whether actions the President took prior to assuming the Presidency can be used against him in the closure case.

The Court voted unanimously to consider banning the 70 other members of Chief Prosecutor Yalçınkaya's list, including Erdoğan and 37 other deputies. The Court needed only a simply majority of judges to agree to accept the case. If AKP is to be closed, a total of seven judges must find it to be in violation of the Constitution and order it closed.

Now that the case has officially been accepted by the Court, AKP might well move quickly to push forward constitutional amendments to change law pertaining to party closures. Unlikely to strike a compromise with MHP, it is possible that AKP will seek to take these amendments to a popular national referendum and/or hold early elections to bolster its majority. Such a move will heighten tensions between the party and Turkey's ruling political establishment—most significantly, the military. The question of early elections is further complicated by the fact that should AKP be closed, the party will inevitably lose its seats in the new parliament. If AKP is serious in its plans to pass amendments, it will need to act quickly. Meanwhile, the party is expected to prepare its preliminary defense in the next month. It is also likely that Yalçınkaya will submit more evidence against AKP following last week's conclusion by the Court's rapporteur, Osman Can, that evidence against AKP needs to be concrete if the party is to be legally closed.

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