03/19/2008, 00.00
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Constitutional court asked to resolve the AKP question quickly

by NAT da Polis
Even the financial markets reacted negatively in Turkey to the request advanced by the procurator general for the dissolution of Erdogan’s party. Concerns over what is seen as the last act of the fierce war between the "deep state" and the moderate Muslim party.

Ankara (AsiaNews) - The important thing is to act quickly, since even the financial markets have reacted negatively to the news that the Turkish constitutional court has been called upon to decide if it will accept the appeal of procurator general Abrurahamam Galcinkayan, who has called for the suspension of the AKP party - which won a decisive victory in the July 2007 elections, with 47 percent of the vote - whose members include the president of the republic, Abdullah Gul, and prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They are guilty, according to the high magistrate, of endangering the country's secularism.

The constitutional court is made up of 11 members, eight of whom were appointed by former Kemalist president Sezer.  For deliberations, seven out of 11 votes are required.

A similar event took place in June of 1998, when the Islamic party of then-prime minister Erbakan was dissolved, after a "warning” from the armed forces. The AKP, currently in power, was born from the ashes of this party.  But it is the first time that the suspension of the president of the republic has been requested, in that his office is firmly protected by the constitution.

An immediate reply came from Erdogan, who exhorted his followers not to take any hasty action, saying "this is not an act against our party, but against the will of the people".  And he added, citing a passage from the Qur'an, "they have ears and do not hear,  they have eyes but do not see, they have tongues, but do not speak the truth".

Bahceli, the head of the nationalist party - which with its votes contributed to the election of Gul and to the constitutional reform on the Islamic veil - said in a written statement: "the appeal for the dismantling of the  AKP, which has governed the country for 65 months, will create significant political problems". For his part, President Gul declared: "We must think very carefully about what would have to be added to Turkey or taken away from it with this initiative".

With the act of the procurator, the ferocious battle continues between the AKP and the Kemalist forces, who find their expression in the army (which in this case seems to be keeping its distance) and in the public administration, of which the magistrature constitutes the last bastion.  It is a battle that began earlier, with the contestation of Gul’s election to the highest state office, thus bringing the country to early elections, and also with the hostility over the reform of the law on wearing the headscarf.  Following the investigation of Ergenekon (a Turkish ultra-nationalist group) the deep state feels that it is on the ropes,  because it appears that it has many skeletons in the closet, and is afraid of the consequences of this.  And it is not going unnoticed that, according to the newspaper Zaman, the European Union is pressing for greater transparency on the Ergenekon affair.

It is a crisis, then, that comes from afar, as is commented in diplomatic circles.  A crisis that has brought the Kemalist system itself to the point of contradicting its own founder.  With the political parties that, as sociologist Umit Cizre says, in recent years, following the state coup in 1980, had transformed itself into a cartel and assured its own survival thanks only to the state, eliminating any sort of political involvement with the people.  It is therefore not difficult to understand the success of Erdogan’s party, the AKP, the only one that has contrasted itself with the system.  In short, what is at stake this time is the true credibility of Turkey in the West, or the return to a regime of secular fundamentalism, with unforeseeable consequences. 

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See also
From Kemal Ataturk to Erdogan. Turkey votes on June 12
Local elections highlight Turkey’s contradictions
Gul’s Iraq visit breathes new life in Ottoman model
European-style reforms save Erdogan from constitutional court ban
Abolition of ban on Islamic headscarf under review by constitutional court


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