Thursday, July 31, 2008

AKP Saved by One Vote

PHOTO: Constitutional Court Chairman Haşim Kılıç, the only judge who ruled against any sanctioning of the party.

The Constitutional Court has just announced its decision regarding AKP's closure, which fell one vote shy of the seven judges required to close down a political party and consider banning the 71 politicians prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya accused of violating the Turkish Constitution's protection of secularism. The 11-judge panel instead issued a decision that denies some treasury funding to the party. The fact that the vote was so close testifies to the case's divisiveness and the high drama that accompanied it. With financial markets actually gaining the past few days on expectation that the Court would rule not to close the party, the Court's decision affirmed expectations and surprised many commentators and several AKP politicians who were predicting closure.

Six judges voted for closure, four for penalities to be imposed on its state funding, and the Court's Chairman, Haşim Kılıç, voted against any sanction.

Kılıç did say that despite AKP's eventual salvation, he believed the party will get the message and curb activities that might be considered anti-secular. He also criticized press coverage of the closure case, which he felt was unfair to the Constitutional Court, and blamed Turkish politicians for not making it more difficult to bring a party closure case to the Court.

For coverage from the Turkish Daily News.

For coverage from Today's Zaman.

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