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Turkish constitutional court rejects ban on ruling party

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Turkey [official website, in Turkish] Wednesday rejected a bid to ban [JURIST report] the country's ruling Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish], which was accused of ignoring the secular principles of the country's constitution [text]. Six of the 11 judges on the court favored dissolving the party, but seven would have been required to successfully pass the ban. The court agreed that the party violated the constitution's secular principles, but only ordered that the state treasury reduce the party's funding by half in response. Critics predicted that the decision could have grave consequences for the secular state, but others, including European Union officials [Hurriyet report], praised the ruling. European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering [official website] had earlier said it would be "absurd" [JURIST report] for the court to close the party as it had come to power through democratic means. Bloomberg has more. Hurriyet has local coverage.

In March, Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya [official profile, in Turkish] petitioned the court [JURIST report] to disband the AKP and bar Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul [BBC profiles] from political office. The AKP filed a response [IPS report] to the dissolution petition in May, arguing that shutting down the party would leave a political void endangering Turkey's democracy. Opponents of the party said that party officials would likely take revenge on the opposition if not banned, but Erdogan denied the accusations [Hurriyet report], though his party had previously threatened to change the country's constitution [JURIST report] to avoid the challenge.

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