AKP sees violence as only reason for party clousure

AKP sees violence as only reason for party clousure

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AKP sees violence as only reason for party clousure

Pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) leader Ahmet Turk (C, podium) addresses the media in front of his party headquarters in Ankara after Turkey’s top court closed his party for having links to the outlawed PKK in Ankara December 12, 2009. REUTERS photo

Promoting violence is the only legitimate reason to close down a political party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has said in a proposal for articles on the fundamental rights and freedoms chapter of the new charter in contrast to the main opposition, which listed anti-secular activities as a reason to shutter parties.

In a proposal drafted for representation at Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission, the AKP - which narrowly avoided closure in July 2008 after a complaint that the party was the focus of anti-secular activities failed to receive the support of the required majority of judges - binds the closure of political parties to permission granted by Parliament. While drafting the article on the principal rules that should be followed by political parties, the AKP lists the “promotion of violence and being the focus of violence” as the only legitimate reason for party closure.

‘Venice criteria’
Upon receiving an appeal by the chief public prosecutor for party closure, a commission composed of equal numbers of representatives from all political parties represented at Parliament will first of all be formed. It will be possible to open a closure case at the Constitutional Court only after the permission is granted to the prosecutor by a two thirds majority vote at this commission through secret balloting.

Back in 2010, the AKP attempted to resolve the party closure issue through the “Venice Criteria,” the criteria of an advisory organ of the Council of Europe, the Venice Commission. The criteria were set up to legally advise European democracies of proper legal procedures, making the closure of political parties possible through permission granted by Parliament. However, the attempt failed as it received less than 330 votes at Parliament’s General Assembly during talks on a constitutional amendment bill. A constitutional amendment requires the votes of at least 367 deputies.

Furthermore, the AKP’s proposed article concerning citizenship changes the definition of citizenship within the current constitution, omitting the notion of “Turkishness,” which is widely considered to be signifying an ethnic or territorial definition.

“Citizenship is a right. Subjects such as granting citizenship or losing citizenship are arranged through law,” the AKP said in its proposal, which also puts an end to involuntary loss of naturalized Turkish citizenship. Article 66 of the existing 1982 Constitution, which is a legacy of the coup d’état of Sept. 12, 1980, states: “Everyone bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship is a Turk.”

The article has been cited by Kurdish politicians as one of the main handicaps preventing progress on a resolution to the Kurdish issue, since it is widely considered exclusionary for Kurdish people. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has been strongly in favor of amendment of this article. The same issue has recently led to a disagreement among the deputies representing the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) at the Constitution Conciliation Commission. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was presiding over a meeting with colleagues at the party’s headquarters in order to resolve the disagreement over the citizenship definition when the Hürriyet Daily News went to print yesterday.