The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) convened its Central Decision and Administration Board (MKYK) on Monday to discuss actions the party may pursue as measures against a closure case brought against it, Today's Zaman reported.
The meeting lasted six hours and was chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was given full authorization for the steps he would take in connection with the closure case. The AK Party has decided to seek consensus in Parliament over constitutional amendments it has been planning to implement in response to the case. If consensus cannot be reached, Prime Minister Erdoğan will most likely opt to hold early elections as a solution. Thus, the likelihood of Turkey's holding early parliamentary elections has become more likely.
The AK Party will not act alone in its fight against the closure case being heard at the Constitutional Court. It will take its proposals pertaining to constitutional articles that regulate party closures to Parliament, suggesting that this amendment should be made in concert with some legal reforms, mainly requested by EU officials.
Senior AK Party officials are, however, certain that they will get no backing from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and its small partner, the Democratic Left Party (DSP). This also appears to be the case with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) as it has recently stipulated that it will only support the AK Party if Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) is not changed. The ruling party proposed a change to the article to Parliament yesterday, putting into doubt MHP support, which has made clear that if the article is discussed in Parliament, relations with the AK Party would be severed.
What was discussed at the meeting
The MKYK meeting ended with a resolution for negotiations with opposition parties to be held immediately. Prime Minister Erdoğan said that this process would be managed with a limited number of party officials. The board gave Erdoğan full authorization to take any necessary steps. While the majority of board members stated that the backing of opposition parties should be sought for constitutional amendments and democratization packages, seven or eight members urged party management to "proceed with amendments even if no one offers their support," a move that would lead to a referendum. However, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek and former Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu voiced legal concerns about the referendum process, and this idea was subsequently abandoned.
After the meeting Deputy AK Party Chairman Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat issued a statement saying: "We will soon meet with opposition parties. We have decided to manage the litigation in its natural course, and our chairman will set up working groups to do this. We discussed the public's concerns about the future. It is obvious that in addition to litigation, this process will have wide-ranging political and economic repercussions. Of course, the litigation will run its course, but it is the duty of political institutions to take measures to safeguard the stability, peace, unity and integrity of the country against the political and economic consequences of this process."
Fırat stressed that the only place where a solution to the current crisis could be found is Parliament. "No one can expect political institutions to remain indifferent to a process which may cause irreparable losses and damage to the country and the nation and result in the disruption of political and economic stability as well as a weakening of our unity. As the AK Party, we have resolved to act with full awareness of this responsibility. In order to develop a solution which will serve to strengthen our legal system and democracy, our search for conciliation with political institutions will continue. As the AK Party, we have never been and never will be involved in useless conflicts. We hope that other political parties will be as sensitive to the common interests of the nation," he said.
Two alternatives for early elections
PM Erdoğan and a limited number of senior party executives will work on the party's initiative. Once ready, it will be sent to the CHP, the MHP, the DSP and the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP). The party will pay special attention to revitalizing the EU process. If the AK Party garners no support from other parties for the constitutional amendments, it will refrain going further with the amendments. Instead, the ruling party will give a green light to early parliamentary elections. Senior AK Party executives have two alternatives in mind about early elections. The first option is to hold early general elections simultaneously with municipal elections slated for March 2009. The second alternative is to postpone the municipal elections to a date in the fall and hold both elections simultaneously.
Abdullatif Şener's silent return
Former Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Şener, who did not run for Parliament in the July 22 elections but has continued to serve as a member of the AK Party's MKYK, attended the board's meeting after a prolonged absence. Şener, whose name has been mentioned in connection with new political parties, cautioned party members to "refrain from tension and conflict." His attending the meeting is regarded as an indication that he will not be involved in new political parties during this process. Politicians close to Şener noted that his involvement in alternate political parties may be perceived as treasonous among AK Party supporters, leading Şener to side with the AK Party to highlight his stance. "I will try to convey my ideas and suggestions to ensure that this process is managed in a healthy manner," Şener told reporters before the meeting.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Nisan 2008, 08:20