Turkish court's decision a warning for ruling party, it's now AKP's turn

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Turkish courts decision a warning for ruling party, its now AKPs turn
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Temmuz 31, 2008 13:22

Although Turkey's Constitutional Court decided to survive AKP from a closure decision, its verdict is a serious warning that could spark a prestige and image problem for the ruling party's image, unless it takes steps to soothe concerns regarding the secularism.

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Observers say the ruling represents a "third way" which was signaled by the Court's Chairman Hasim Kilic two months ago. 


Kilic has told the Referans business daily in May: "Believe me whatever the ruling is, you all see that our democracy, secularism and legal institutions would come out of this process stronger. And believe me this is not a wishful thinking!"


And he said on Wednesday everybody should make necessary efforts to reduce political tension in Turkey from now on and urged political parties to take the legal steps for toughening party closure conditions.


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The message and the details of the ruling of the Constitutional Court should be read carefully.


Six of the 11 members said the AKP had become the focal point of anti-secular activities; one member, the chairman Hasim Kilic, said the case should be rejected and the remaining four members also admitted that the party is focal point of anti-secular activities but not in an extent to deserve to be banned.


In other words 10 members of the Court said AKP had taken steps that harm the secularism principle in the country. That's why the ruling is a "serious warning" for the governing party, as Kilic said, and its activities would continue to be monitored by state organs.


"The AKP had been convicted for committing a crime against secularism by the 10 of the 11 members of the Constitutional Court. So that the AKP was not acquitted by the Constitutional Court," Murat Yetkin, Radikal's Ankara bureau chief said on Thursday.


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He said Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP should now think twice before taking any steps, because every action of the ruling party would be assessed under the shadow of the court's ruling.




The ball is now on the AKP's side. The ruling gave a brief relief to the country but the underlying issues remain in place and the solution mainly depends on the steps that AKP and Erdogan would take.


Erdogan's responsibility is to understand the message of the decision and take steps in line with that, Fikret Bila, Milliyet daily's Ankara bureau chief wrote in his column on Thursday.


"Re-considering his policies over secularism, which is among the principles of the Constitution that cannot be changed and even proposed to be changed, should be at the top of the things that (Erdogan) should do? This is the outcome of the Constitutional Court's decision to annul the law lifting headscarf ban in universities and six members' (decision) to vote in favor of the party's closure," he added.


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Erdogan said on Wednesday, in his first reaction to the ruling, everybody, especially politicians, has responsibilities and reiterated that his party would embrace every single person in the country regardless of their political views.


Those remarks reminded the one he made after the AKP's sweeping victory in the general election in July 22, 2007. Erdogan had been under fire for not keeping his promise and fail to do what he said with embracing every segment of the nation.


Some segments of the nation and state organs have concerns over the AKP's policies and this is basis of the crisis that the country is going through, Bilal Cetin, Vatan columnist, wrote on Thursday.


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"And the fact that those concerns are not baseless was heightened with the... ruling of the Constitutional Court. This would be a serious prestige and image problem for the AKP," he added.




Analysts suggest the first -and crucial- step that Erdogan could take is making changes in the leadership of the party as well as the cabinet. Erdogan could leave some radical names out.


hurriyet.com.tr and Milliyet reported Erdogan could shuffle his cabinet. Milliyet daily said Erdogan could change 5-6 ministers in the government, according to the speculations in Ankara; adding he discussed the issue in his secret meeting with President Abdullah Gul on Sunday.


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Media reports also suggest Erdogan could replace some names from the party administration as well.


The ruling party and Erdogan are now left without any excuses. The Court's ruling is a serious warning that should be evaluated by the AKP leadership, who now has the responsibility to take steps to soothe concerns.

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