Justice and Development Party (Turkey)

Justice and Development Party (Turkey)

Infobox Turkish Political Party
party_name = Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi
Justice and Development Party
party_wikicolourid = AKP
leader = Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
foundation = August 14, 2001
ideology = Social conservatism, Democracy, Economic liberalism
european = European People's Party (observer)
international = none
colours = Orange, White
headquarters = No. 202 Balgat
Ankara, Turkey
website = [http://www.akparti.org.tr AK Parti]

The Justice and Development Party ( _tr. Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi or "AK Parti", or "AKP"ref|name|†) is the incumbent Turkish political party, which describes itself as being conservative.

Brief background

The AKP portrays itself as a moderate, conservative, pro-Western party that advocates a liberal market economy and Turkish membership in the European Union.cite news
title=New to Turkish politics? Here's a rough primer
work=Turkish Daily News
] The AKP won 46.6% of the popular vote and was allocated 341 seats [ [http://secim2007.ntvmsnbc.com/default.aspx Secim 2007] , "NTV-MSNBC" tr icon] in the rescheduled July 22, 2007 elections. While the total vote share represented a massive increase over the 34% of the vote it received in the 2002 general election, the AKP ultimately garnered fewer seats as a result of the MHP passing the 10% total vote threshold necessary to claim parliamentary seats. [cite news
title=Ruling Party in Turkey Wins Broad Victory
work=New York Times
authorlink=Sabrina Tavernise
] Abdullah Gül, a prominent AKP leader and former Foreign Minister, is currently the President of Turkey, while Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the head of the party and the Prime Minister.


A reformist faction ( _tr. yenilikçiler) of moderate conservative members within the now-banned Welfare Party formed the Justice and Development Party on August 14, 2001, in an attempt to ground moderate conservative politics in a secular democratic framework. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the leader of the AK Party, stated that "AK Party is not a political party with a religious axis" when the party was founded. Critics accused it of harboring a hidden agenda. [A delightful editorial cartoon captures the divided opinion, referencing the Islamic practice of taqiyya (dissimulation): cite news|work=Gözcu/Asabi|publisher=Gerçek Yayıncılık A.Ş.|author=Asyalı, Ergin|location=Ankara|date=2003-08-22|url=http://www.practicalturkish.com/idioms--korun-istedigi-bir-goz.html|title=Körün istediği bir göz, Allah verdi iki göz]

Erdoğan’s AK Party shifted the focus of religiously-affiliated politics from concern over Turkey’s lack of Islamic characteristics to pushing for democratic and economic reforms in addition to stressing moral values through the communitarian-liberal consensus. Erdoğan also sought to temper his party’s Islamist image by building a broad-reaching coalition with members of centre-right parties, and by promising to further Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. Erdoğan also positioned the AKP as the opposition party to the old, secular, state-driven development parties that had been proven ineffective by the repeated economic crises of the 1990s and early 2000s.Fact|date=July 2008

After some initial stumbling, notably when Erdoğan was temporarily blocked from taking up the Prime Ministership, the AK Party has found its feet. It survived the crisis over the 2003 invasion of Iraq despite a massive back bench rebellion where over a hundred AKP MPs joined those of the opposition Republican People's Party in parliament to prevent the government from allowing the United States to launch a Northern offensive in Iraq from Turkish territory.The AK Party has undertaken significant structural reforms, and during its rule Turkey has seen rapid growth and an end to its three decade long period of hyperinflation—inflation had fallen to 8.8% by June 2004. Influential business publications such as "The Economist" consider the AK Party's government the most successful in Turkey in decades. [cite web|url=http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9116747
title=The battle for Turkey's soul (Democracy v secularism in Turkey)
work=The Economist

In the local elections of 2004, the AK Party won an unprecedented 42% of the valid votes, making inroads against the secular nationalist Republican People's Party (CHP) on the South and West Coasts, and against the Social Democratic People's Party (Turkey), which is supported by some Kurds in the Southeast of Turkey.

In January 2005, the AK Party was admitted as an observer member in the European People's Party (EPP), the conservative party of the EU. It is likely to become a full member of the EPP if Turkey is admitted to the EU. If the EU eventually rejects Turkey for membership, however, many fear that the AKP could again split between its reformist and conservative factions, heralding another period of instability in Turkish politics.

Despite the party's statements, the AKP has brought on many changes that are interpreted as being non-secular or rooted in Islam. In 2005, AKP banned the sale of alcoholic beverages in a section of Ankara which was mostly occupied by bars and restaurants. This ban was soon lifted due to the response from the area's business owners; however, a licensing requirement still remains for the establishments. AKP has also been accused of placing anti-secular individuals in government offices and giving out government contracts to parties with a reputation for being rooted in Islam. In 2007 AKP passed a bill lifting the headscarf ban in all universities. This action was criticized by the secular parties, and also served as the last straw, leading to the 2008 indictments calling for the Party's outlaw.Upon being indicted, the AKP government has made multiple arrests in the secular population. This has been interpreted as the final attempt to rid the country of powerful secularist before the party's possible closure.On August 5, 2008, President Abdullah Gul, assigned 21 new deans to all government Universities after the verdict of the party closure trials. The Turkish media, released that all newly placed deans were for the lift of the headscarf ban. On August 9,2008, Edibe Sozen, and AKP parliament member, proposed establishing a prayer section in all schools, and to ban the sales of pornographic images to anyone under the age of 16. The the proposed bill also included that anyone over 16 purchasing the content, would be logged via, Citizen Identification Number. [cite news|url=http://ulusalkanal.com.tr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8823&Itemid=5
work=Ulusal Kanal
] In 2004, in providence of Istanbul, Muammer Guler, the mayor of Istanbul passed the bill banning all publicly displayed images, including advertisements, containing, partial nudity such as swim suit advertisements. [cite news|url=http://www.nethaber.com/Ekonomi/21883/Istanbulda-fiilen-mayo-reklami-yasagi-uygulaniyormus
title=İstanbul'da fiilen mayo reklamı yasağı uygulanıyormuş
Failed verification|date=September 2008

2007 general elections

The AKP achieved a landslide victory in the rescheduled July 22, 2007 elections with 46.6% of the vote, translating into control of 341 of the 550 available parliamentary seats. Although the AK Party received significantly more votes in 2007 than in 2002, the number of parliamentary seats they controlled decreased due to the rules of the Turkish electoral system. However, they retain a comfortable ruling majority.

Territorially, the elections of 2007 saw a major advance for the AK Party, with the party outpolling the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party in traditional Kurdish strongholds such as Van and Mardin, as well as outpolling the secular-left CHP in traditionally secular areas such as Antalya and Artvin. Overall, the AKP secured a plurality of votes in 68 of Turkey's 81 provinces, with its strongest vote of 71% coming from Bingöl. Its weakest vote, a mere 12%, came from Tunceli, the only Turkish province where the Alevi sect form a majority. [cite news
title=Turkey: 22 July 2007 - Election Results
work=BBC Turkish

2008 closure case

During a trip to Spain, the prime minister remarked "What if the turban is a symbol (of political Islam)? Even if it were a political symbol, does that give right to ban it? Could you bring prohibitions to symbols?" After the party's attempt to lift the headscarf ban, the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya, saw this as the final straw and first warned (January 17), then formally asked the Constitutional Court to close the party (March 14). [cite news
title=From landmark success to closure: AKP's journey
work=Turkish Daily News
] Addressing the Constitutional Court, he said "According to the laws in effect, if a party is committing crimes and has really become a 'hotbed of anti-secular activities,' in accordance with the constitution, the office of the chief prosecutor is left with no other choice but to file this closure lawsuit."Fact|date=August 2008

This judicial manoeuvre came after a similar suggestion by retired general Doğu Silahçıoğlu in February. [cite news|title=Çıkış Yolu|first=Doğu|last=Silahçıoğlu|work=Cumhuriyet|date=2008-02-03|quote=Laik Cumhuriyeti savunmaya kararlı her yurttaş, hükümetin antidemokratik uygulamaları karşısında, toplumsal tepkisini olanca gücüyle ortaya koymalı; anayasal kurum ve kuruluşların da desteğinde, halkın geniş katılımıyla bir 'ulusal cephe' oluşturulmalı ve AKP hükümeti en kısa sürede iktidardan uzaklaştırılmalıdır!] [cite news
title=Sözü Doğu Silahçıoğlu Paşa’ya bırakmak
work=Star Gazete


The chief prosecutor's office made the "chief prosecutor file" public on March 14, 2008. Prime Minister Erdoğan and his deputies immediately convened the governing body to discuss the chief prosecutor file the next day. The Constitutional Court reviewed the file and unanimously accepted the indictment.

The Constitutional Court reviewed both the initial response of the AK party and its technical position and developed questions regarding the positions. The court's questions were presented to the AK Party officials. Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek presented the AK Party's defense testimony in court. [cite news|url=http://i.milliyet.com.tr/akpsavunma/default.aspx?ver=59
title=Full text of testimony
] A court-appointed rapporteur, Osman Can, advocated in his report that the Court should reject the closure case. [cite news|url=http://www.bianet.org/english/kategori/english/108647/constitutional-court-takes-up-the-akp-closure-case
title=Constitutional Court Takes Up The AKP Closure Case
quote=The rapporteur’s conclusion was to reject the closure case.


In the indictment—comprising 2455 pages in 441 files—in addition to the AK Party's disbanding, the prosecutor demanded a five-year ban from involvement in politics for 71 senior AK Party administrators, including Prime Minister Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül, based on the following allegations:

# Members of the party have acts in the area between the "Person" and "the God", which is banned to politicians by the Turkish constitution.Clarifyme|date=September 2008
##AK Party has arrangements based on Sharia. Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed in Spain in January 2008 stating "Even if [the headscarf] is a political symbol, the constitution and the courts do not have right to ban it."
##AK Party has modified articles 10 and 42 of the Constitution to change the essence of the principle of secularism.Fact|date=August 2008
#AK Party used the executive powers based on "public arrangements with religious rules"; this form of decision making is unconstitutional.Clarifyme|date=September 2008


After deliberating for three days, the court gave its verdict on July 30, 2008. AKP (Justice and Development Party) was found guilty of becoming the focus of anti-secularist actions. A qualified majority of seven out of eleven votes is required to disband a political party. Six members of the Court voted in favour of disbanding the party, thus falling short of the required qualified majority by one vote.cite news |title=Turkey's court decides not to close AKP, urges unity and compromise |url=http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/home/9547882.asp?gid=244&sz=29614 |work=Hurriyet |date=2008-07-30 |accessdate=2008-07-30] Four members voted to cut government funding for the party, while the Court leader rejected to close it down. The Court rejected most of the demands of the prosecutor and did not ban the party, however it determined the party as the focus of actions that are anti-secular and halved its funding from the Central Bank as a penalty.


* The former of the two abbreviations is the official one, as documented in the third article of the party charter, while the latter is mostly preferred by its opponents; since the word "ak" in Turkish means "white", "clean", or "unblemished," lending a positive impression. [cite news|url=http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12273885
title=Less than white?
work=The Economist


External links

* [http://eng.akparti.org.tr/english/index.html Official website] en icon
* [http://www.akparti.org.tr/ Official website] tr icon
** [http://eng.akparti.org.tr/english/partyprogramme.html Party programme]

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