ANKARA - TDN Parliamentary Bureau
As the top court neared its verdict yesterday on the closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, with some even expecting a decision last night, the scenarios are many as to what may happen to both the AKP and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey will undergo a stormy period if the country's highest court closes down the ruling party for its alleged anti-secular activities and bars Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from politics.
The roadmap for politics will be drawn in line with the decision of the Constitutional Court. If the court rules to cut Treasury aid to the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, instead of outlawing the party, the political landscape will not change.
However, in the event that the ruling party is shut down and Erdoğan is barred from politics for five years, the government will collapse and a new party will be established. A new interim government will be formed and Erdoğan will lose his seat in Parliament when the top court announces its decision to shut down the party with a short legal reasoning.
Lawmakers are discussing two options at this point. Some lawmakers defend the idea that a politician who has the right to be involved in politics can head the government until a new one is established even if the government collapses. Some, meanwhile, argue that the government will collapse and a new one will have to be formed immediately. Former Parliament Speaker Hüsamettin Cindoruk argues that the deputy prime minister, who isn't barred from politics within the AKP, can substitute for the prime minister until a new government is formed even if the government collapses.
Some lawyers and politicians, on the other hand, say that President Abdullah Gül has to intervene in the process if the top court closes down the party. According to them, Gül should ensure the establishment of a new government through Parliament on the same day as the top court's decision if possible.
There are some options at this stage. The deputies who leave the AKP after its closure will join a new party and inform Parliament of their move via a petition. The chairman of this new party, which will occupy most of the seats in Parliament, will be assigned by Gül to form a new government. The government will thus get approval from Gül and take over the government. The country will remain without a government for a few hours or days at the most, according to this scenario.
Erdoğan can be independent deputy
Until a possible handover, Erdoğan's government would not take any legal decision since there is no legal arrangement as to where the judicial process will be carried out if the decisions become judicial. The case couldn't be discussed in the Constitutional Court as Erdoğan will lose the title of prime minister.
If the AKP isn't able to produce its substitute or there isn't a sufficient number of participants in the new party, Gül may task main opposition leader Deniz Baykal of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, with forming a minority government. Baykal will then submit his cabinet list to Çankaya on the same day and receive approval from Gül, taking over office from Erdoğan.
Then a vote of confidencewill be held in Parliament. If Baykal's government receives a vote of confidence, the process continues. If it can't manage that, Baykal heads the government as the prime minister until a new government is established.
Whatever formula is adopted, Erdoğan could be elected to Parliament as an independent deputy even if he is banned from practicing politics. If the top court bans 28 AKP deputies from political activities, 5 percent of seats in Parliament will become vacant and by-elections will have to be held in 90 days according to the Constitution.
The assignment of the existing government at the time will expire. Former Chief Prosecutor Sabih Kanadoğlu, meanwhile, argues that Erdoğan cannot be elected as an independent deputy in the by-elections as the top court's decision which would bar Erdoğan from politics concerns the current parliamentary period. The political ban, which is limited to the present parliamentary period, can only be removed via general elections, not through by-elections, according to him. Erdoğan could be elected as an independent deputy to Parliament and become prime minister through general elections. Erdoğan himself has said there is no legal barrier for him to be elected as an independent prime minister. There is no article in the Constitution prohibiting this.
The chief prosecutor's indictment also requested a political ban for Gül. Even if the top court rules in favor of a ban, Gül will still be able to continue in his post as president, as the post of president has no link with political parties.