Top court ruling may change balances within ruling party

Top court ruling may change balances within ruling party

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Top court ruling may change balances within ruling party

Several high-profile names, including ministers and senior officials will not be able to stand in the upcoming term according to the ruling Justice and Development Party’s current internal regulations. AA photo

A recent Constitutional Court ruling that annulled a legal provision preventing chamber presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms may lead to a process that would change the future calculations of the ruling party.

If this ruling serves as an example for the internal regulations of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which prevents party lawmakers from serving more than three consecutive terms, the top court may annul that provision of the AKP bylaws. In such circumstances, political balances may turn upside down in a chain reaction.

The Constitutional Court ruled Jan. 10 to annul a legal provision that prevents individuals who have held the position of presidency of an administration board or assembly of chambers and stock markets for two consecutive terms from being elected to the same position before a two-term break. The ruling gave the green light for the re-election of several business leaders, including Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) Chairman Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu.

The ruling also led to speculations as to whether this could set a precedent for AKP lawmakers and mayors, who may be elected for a fourth term to the same position only after a one-term break.

“Mayors and deputies who run and are elected from AK Party [AKP] lists can be nominated as candidates for three terms at most,” an AKP bylaw had stipulated before an amendment was made during the party’s grand congress on Sept. 30.

Game change

If the three-term rule of the AKP is annulled, political calculations for 2014 may profoundly change within the ruling party. Local elections will be held in March 2014 and presidential elections in August 2014. In AKP corridors, nobody has considered as realistic the possibility that somebody within the party will object the three-term rule despite Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s insistence on the issue. According to another scenario, Erdoğan will not nominate those who have previously served as lawmakers for three terms for another term, even if the top court annuls the three-term ban of the AKP.

According to constitutional law Professor Ergun Özbudun, extension of provisions in the two cases is not likely. “This ruling cannot serve as an example for the AKP bylaws, because this ruling regards chambers and stock markets that have public institution status. But political parties are legal entities; they can write their internal regulations as they wish. So, the ruling related to the TOBB is not binding for the AKP,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News.

İbrahim Kaboğlu, also a professor specializing in constitutional law, said “only aggrieved individuals can appeal to the Constitutional Court. AKP members could appeal as aggrieved parties.”

Several high-profile names including deputy prime ministers Bülent Arınç, Beşir Atalay, Bekir Bozdağ and Ali Babacan; ministers Sadullah Ergin, Binali Yıldırım, Recep Akdağ and Egemen Bağış; and party seniors Ömer Çelik, Hüseyin Çelik and Nurettin Canikli will not be able to be elected in the upcoming term according to the AKP’s current internal regulations.