|The rapporteur of the Constitutional Court recommended on Wednesday that the court not close the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in his non-binding report. Although the report raised expectations that the ruling party might not be closed, the court ruled against the recommendations in the headscarf and so-called "367 conundrum" cases.
With the submission and distribution to court members of the report on the merits of case, the legal process against the ruling party entered its final stage. The head of the court, Hasim Kilic, would hold discussions with court members to set a date to start hearing the case.
Osman Can, the rapporteur of the court, said in his report the headscarf law was an initiative of the parliament, not just the government so the entire responsibility should not belong to the ruling party. Also the headscarf law should be considered as a step to boost freedoms, he added, according to local media reports.
Can also said in his recommendations that speeches by party members, deemed anti-secular by the country's top prosecutor, should be considered within "the limits of free speech".
He referred to the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights, adding that a party can be closed only if it promotes violence.
The court, which has closed down several pro-Islamic parties in the past on similar grounds, including the one that AKP has its political roots, has a tendency to weigh precedent more heavily than the recommendations of its advisers.
Can recommended to the top court earlier this year that it allow the lifting of the ban on headscarves but the court overwhelmingly decided to leave the ban in place, inflicting a blow to the ruling Islamic-rooted government.
The country's top prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, claims that the party, known by its Turkish acronym AKP, is engaged in a systematic effort to impose Islam on Turkey.
The indictment cites efforts to lift a ban on wearing Islamic headscarves in universities and other measures that violate the secularism principle of the country, and accuses the AKP of seeking to impose Sharia order.
Yalcinkaya has demanded a ban on 71 party officials, including Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, as well as the party's closure.
Analysts and experts expect the AKP to be closed, however the critical question emerges as to whether Erdogan would be banned or not. Can also recommended against the political ban demand.
Erdogan, a charismatic leader, is seen as the anchor of the party, and many think if he is banned it would be hard to keep the party together. Although the leadership of the party has its roots in political Islam, the party members include former leftists, liberals, central right and Kurdish politicians. AKP's diversified structure is seen as the main reason for its high popular support.
Abdullatif Sener, a former AKP executive and deputy prime minister, seems to be the first name to have left the party to form a new political movement. Although no deputies have yet quit the AKP to join Sener, some of them may do so after the court's ruling.