ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
The ruling AKP government survives in a cliffhanger the threat to its existence after only six instead of seven top judges rule in favor of closure. The court decides to impose a fine amounting to half of the AKP's Treasury grants this year. Only a year after it won a parliamentary majority in the national elections, the government is allowed to carry on
Turkey's top court yesterday issued its verdict over the fate of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and dismissed the chief prosecutor's demand to disband it with six to five votes on the third day of deliberations. The party closure requires at least seven votes in favor.
The court also decided, however, to cut in half last year's Treasury aid to the AKP, as six votes demanded closure while four sought financial punishment and one, court President Haşim Kılıç, voted against the closure. The court's verdict is seen as a “warning” to the AKP regarding alleged moves to undermine the country's secularism principle.
“We believe that the political party concerned will get the message it should from the verdict,” Kılıç told reporters. Recalling the political tension in the country, Kılıç called on all political actors to reconcile to avoid further polarization and make necessary constitutional amendments.
“None of our judges can say he or she is happy with closure cases. But unfortunately Turkey discusses rules of party closure only when a closure case is filed. We would prefer that changes would be made before opening of closure cases,” Kılıç stated.
The prime minister and leader of the AKP, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, heard the verdict in his official residence.
Turkey's most controversial closure case started with Chief Public Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya's submission of the indictment against the AKP to the Constitutional Court March 14 of this year. He claimed the AKP had to be shut down on the grounds that it had become a focal point of anti-secular activity. He also requested the imposition of a five-year political ban on 71 individuals affiliated with or members of the AKP. They include President Abdullah Gül -- an ex-member of the AKP, Erdoğan, eight ministers and 30 other AKP lawmakers.
The indictment cited hundreds of statements from party members as evidence of the intent to install an Islamic government in Turkey.
Court Rapporteur Osman Can told the court that closure was not consistent with the principle of freedom of expression in his recommendations to the court July 16. The judges decided on July 22 to discuss the final verdict July 28.
On July 28, the 11 judges of the top court gathered for final deliberations on the closure case against the AKP.