Thursday, May 8, 2008

AK Files Defense with Constitutional Court

AKP submitted its preliminary defense statement to the Constitutional Court this week. The move is one of the first steps to be take in the closure case that has been accepted by the Court and suggests that AKP is moving to accept closure rather than push through the constitutional amendment package it has proposed. If the party was likely to fight its closure, it is reasonable that it would delay its filing, as has been the case with DTP. Next, Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya will file a respone based on the content of his file and AKP will be expected to file a substantive defense based on the content of the Chief Prosecutor's allegations.

In the preliminary statement, instead of focusing on the specific charges the Chief Prosecutor has brought against the party, AKP argued that the case was politically-inspired and that Yalçınkaya is acting in bad faith. Responses to the content of the indictment focused on unattributed statements allegedly made by AKP members, the inadmissibility of legislative actions AKP members have taken due to parliamentary immunity, the inadmissability of legislative and administrative actions taken by AKP-led municipalities and actions taken in the executive branch (since supervision of these actions are in the domain of the Council of State), and the inadmissibility of past statements party members may have made prior to joining AKP, e.g.., Erdoğan's minarets as swords statement).

The defense also laid out the framework in European law for shutting down political parties by citing the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights and those laid out in the Copenhagen Criteria to which Turkey's EU entrance is pinned.

In other notable news regarding the closure case, the Turkish daily Vatan ran a story about about comments Erdoğan made at a private dinner. According to Vatan, the prime minister hinted at plans for the establishment of a new party. Erdoğan is reported to have said that the Turkish economy could not survive a prolonged closure case and that the it will come to a conclusion by July. If the story has any validity, its significance is that AKP might well dissolve itself and give up hopes of passing constitutional amendments to save the party. Erdoğan dismissed the comments as lacking in truth.

Closure seems increasingly a foregone conclusion, and the recent slowdown a symptom of AKP's all but publicly stated decision to accept closure and focus on forming a new party in slightly revamped form. The real question will be the five-year political bans faced by 71 of its members, 38 of whom are current deputies.

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