ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
The top court verdict sparing the ruling the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, from closure is not just a message to the government, but to all political parties and actors in the country.
�I want to believe that hereafter necessary efforts will be exerted to defuse the tension in Turkey's political life,� Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç said late Wednesday when announcing the verdict in the closure case against the AKP.
The tension to which Kılıç referred began to rise after the ruling party amended the Constitution, lifting the headscarf ban at universities and triggering the chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals to file a lawsuit against the party arguing that it had become the focal point of the anti-secular activity. The case created a fresh source of conflict among political parties and caused the polarization of society over secular principles. Here are some interpretations of the court's ruling:
�AKP should get the message'
Ten judges of the 11-member court admitted that the party has become the focal point of anti-secular activity, but only six agreed to disband it. This shows that a majority of the court's members thought the party was not entirely innocent. �Of course the chief prosecutor will continue to follow this party. If he feels the necessity of filing another lawsuit he will sure do it. In this case, just like we did it now, we're going to come up with a decision,� Kılıç said. This shows that if the AKP continues with its Islamic agenda and tries to undermine the secularism principle, the court will be unlikely to give it a second chance for survival. �It's a serious warning to this party. I hope the party in question … will get the message it should get,� Kılıç said.
�Don't occupy court with your problems'
Kılıç also said the top court was unhappy that almost all political problems were being taken to the courts. �Putting some very important issues in front of the Constitutional Court resulted in important economic and social consequences,� Kılıç said. The Constitutional Court has been at the center of political discussions since the presidential elections last year. Almost all constitutional amendments have been brought before it, including one allowing female students to wear the headscarf in universities.
�Make party closures more difficult'
Another message Kılıç sent to politicians was one about the methodology of party closures. He recommended that political parties amend the Constitution and make its procedures more democratic. �We once again want to call on our political actors,� Kılıç said, adding the rules could be amended rapidly if there is overall discomfort with current procedures.
Immediately after the chief prosecutor filed the lawsuit against the AKP, party officials began seriously discussing constitutional amendments to make party closures more difficult. Kılıç, who was opposed the idea of discussing the matter when a case was before the court, urged political parties to reach a compromise on the issue when it was not on the country's agenda.
Leave it to the polls
The court's ruling has no direct impact on opposition parties but indirectly says �the political battle should be done in the field of politics.� Many opposition parties were waiting for the disbandment of the AKP to get an advantage in both Parliament and upcoming local and early general elections.
The verdict made it clear to all opposition parties that they should focus on bringing down the AKP in elections instead of turning to the courts.