The JDP Faces the Threat of Closure: Erdogan's Toughest Test?

On March 31, 2008, the Turkish Constitutional Court voted unanimously to consider the case for the closure of the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP). The indictment against the JDP had been submitted two weeks earlier by Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya who alleged that the party had “become the center of activities contrary to the principle of secularism.”

While its decision to take on the case does not give a firm indication of its eventual verdict, it is worth remembering that the Constitutional Court has been instrumental in sending into political extinction twenty four political parties in four decades. In any case, parallel to its consideration of the possible closure of the JDP, the court is also considering the possibility of a five year ban on political activity by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and sixty nine of his JDP colleagues as well as President Abdullah Gul who is no longer a member of the JDP. It may be significant that eight of the eleven members of the court were appointed by the rigorously secular former president Ahmet Necdet Sezer

Bulent Aliriza
Senior Associate (Non-resident), Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program