Tag Archives: Constitutional Court

Viva L’Italia, Viva Berlusconi, Viva Truth!

Silvio Berlusconi is a fighter, particularly when anyone or any government institution refuses to accept the fact he is the nation’s wealthiest man and thus entitled to do as he damn well pleases. The 9-6 verdict by the Italian Constitutional Court which over-turned the immunity granted the prime minister for any criminal charges has infuriated Silvio. “We have to govern for five years with or without the law… these things just wind me up. we move on, move forward.” Although his popularity has dropped from 63% to just below 50% in light of recent sex scandals, Silvio is happy and ready to take on all comers.

Berlusconi now is subject to being indicted and tried for three cases including allegations o tax fraud. But, he might just as well call a snap election to let the Constitutional Court he has the support of the Italian people and they can go to hell. Tune in for the latest episode in the life of Silvio Berlusconi

Turkish Prime Minister Scolded By Court

The Constitutional Court of Turkey scolded Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for undermining the nation’s secular principles although it stopped short of demanding his resignation. The court in July fined the Islamist -rooted Justice and Development Party(AKP) for fostering an anti-secular attitude in government. However, the Court ruled: “It was found that the head of the party(AKP)Recep Tayyip Erdogan, member of the party and former parliament speaker Bulent Arinc, Education Minister Huseyin Celik–were involved in determined and intense activities which were against Aricle 68 of the constitution.”

The Court decision focused on how Erdogan and other members of the AKP attempted to lift the ban on women being able to wear a headscarf in universities. It also mentioned statements made by Erdogan in which he said, “religion is the cement of Turkish society.” Erdogan argued he was simply trying to make clear there was freedom of speech in a religious society. The Court is sending a message to the AKP to be careful regarding which aspects of Turkish society they wish to change.

South African Leader Jacob Zuma Headed For Trial

Jacob Zuma, leader of the African National Congress(ANC), and the individual expected to be elected to the presidency of South Africa, was dealt a serious judicial blow when the nation’s Constitutional Court in a ten to one vote ruled legal documents obtained in police raids. The court also in a unanimous ruling, sad the National Prosecuting Attorney(NPA) could seek access to documents which relate to charges of corruption and fraud held in other locations of the world. The documents which were found are central to the success of any criminal prosecution which might be brought against the ANC leader. The court responded to claims by ANC officials they were biased and merely attempting to carryout a political vendetta against Zuma: “The cases have been considered and decided in the normal way, in accordance with the dictates of our oath of office and in terms of the Constitution and the law, without any fear or prejudice.”

There are reports of a possible way to resolve the issues raised by the case by some form of amnesty for Zuma. The case is critical to the meaning of democracy in South Africa. Jacob Zuma is a prominent leader of the ANC and his charismatic approach to politics has earned him widespread adulation among millions, but the essence of a democracy is the rule of law, not the rule of popularity. Jacob Zuma could become a national hero if he would accept the court’s verdict and withdraw from his candidacy for president.

Secular Turkish Journalist Argues Against Closure of AKP

The establishment of a modern secular Turkey nearly a hundred years ago marked an important turning point in the history of Middle Eastern Islamic practices. The Turkish constitution made clear that no party which endeavored to establish religious doctrine as the basis of Turkish law was to be allowed to exist. Turkey’s Constitutional Court is presently hearing charges levied by the Public Prosecutor to close down the Justice and Development Party(AKK) on grounds it has violated the constitution by its pro-religious efforts. Yush Kanli, writing in the Turkish Daily News who regards himself as a believer in secularism expressed his opposition to the effort to close down the AKP. “Some have gone to the extent of accusing me of ‘betraying the secular democratic Republic.”

He writes with passion, “Self-catering democrats, self-catering secularists, self-caterng supporters of individual rights and liberties may not of course comprehend the need to demand justice for all, equality of all in the need to demand justice for all, equality of all in front of justice, to oppose all anti-democratic moves without discrimination and e ven to be able to say, ‘if in principle I am against closure of political parties by a military junta or by by the Constitutional Court, I am against–in principles- the closure of the AKP as well through like many people I have very strong doubts that the ruling party has an agenda incompatible with the secular democratic Republic.”

Kanli raises the important issue of respecting the right of free speech of those you believe may well seek to destroy free speech. He believes the AKP is aware of past history in which other Islamist parties were closed down and will be careful to avoid angering secularist institutions such as the Army and the Constitutional Court. We hope he is correct and agree with his views on democracy for all viewpoints.

Turkish Court Urged Not To Ban AKP

The rapporteur for the Constitutional Court of Turkey is recommending against any issuance of a decision which would ban political activities of the Justice and Development Party(AKP). Rapporteur, Osman Can, argued that charges of anti-secular activity fall under freedom of expression and cannot be grounds for closure. He reminded the Turkish high court that in Western democracies only committing acts of violence can be considered the basis for closing down a political party.

He also pointed out to Constitutional Court Justices that according to the Venice Commission criteria which are guidelines in Europe for banning a political party, the AKP had a Parliament constitutional amendment passed which lifted the ban on wearing a headscarf in universities and that amendment was declared null and void by the Constitutional Court. Therefore, the Constitutional Court has already dealt with the issue.

The rapporteur argued in light of the above the Court can not ban top officials of the AKP from participating in political life or running for political office. A decision is expected by
August.

Hopefully, the AKP can remain a vibrant political party and learn from this episode the importance of consulting more closely with the opposition and working with them to resolve delicate issues in a spirit of collegiality.

Turkish Court Urged Not To Ban AKP

The rapporteur for the Constitutional Court of Turkey is recommending against any issuance of a decision which would ban political activities of the Justice and Development Party(AKP). Rapporteur, Osman Can, argued that charges of anti-secular activity fall under freedom of expression and cannot be grounds for closure. He reminded the Turkish high court that in Western democracies only committing acts of violence can be considered the basis for closing down a political party.

He also pointed out to Constitutional Court Justices that according to the Venice Commission criteria which are guidelines in Europe for banning a political party, the AKP had a Parliament constitutional amendment passed which lifted the ban on wearing a headscarf in universities and that amendment was declared null and void by the Constitutional Court. Therefore, the Constitutional Court has already dealt with the issue.

The rapporteur argued in light of the above the Court can not ban top officials of the AKP from participating in political life or running for political office. A decision is expected by
August.

Hopefully, the AKP can remain a vibrant political party and learn from this episode the importance of consulting more closely with the opposition and working with them to resolve delicate issues in a spirit of collegiality.

European Union’s Turkish Dilemma No Delight

The European Union is confronting a dilemma dealing with the current political crisis in Turkey which threatens to end hopes for that nation to become a member of the bloc in the forseeable future. Ironically, forces of secularism in Turkey which long to see their country a member of the EU in hope such an event will ensure the maintenance of secular values and norms are faced with the prospect that Turkish secular forces are making certain that will not take place. Political tension is high as the Constitutional Court is prepared to most likely declare the Justice and Development Party(AKP) as having violated the constitution because it supports certain measures such as allowing females to wear a headscarf in college and plotting to destroy secularism in Turkey.

To make matters worse, police have arrested scores of retired generals, journalists and academics on charges they were plotting to create disorder in order to carry through a coup that would overthrow the Islamic government. The situation is also damaging Turkey’s economic climate as investors are concerned they might be investing in a nation close to chaos.

Sweden and Great Britain which have championed Turkish entry into the EU are concerned that a “judicial coup” may have destroyed efforts to achieve this aim. Those opposing Turkish entry now have evidence the country is disorganized and unable to function as a legitimate democratic entity. Lost in the confusion is the reality of a modern Muslim political party which works with Israel to obtain peace in the Middle East being on the verge of extinction.

Coup Rumors Circulate In Turkey

The Turkish nation is experiencing extreme stress upon its governmental structures as rumors circulate in the capital regarding alleged plots by military leaders to overthrow the government. Last week, police arrested former generals, academics, journalists and even mafia bosses who belonged to the ultranationalist Ergenekan organization which they claimed was preparing a coup to overthrow the government and crush any movement that favors imposing religious practices. Even as the government moved to crush a potential coup, the Turkish Constitutional Court was hearing closing arguments in the case brought by the Public Prosecutor which seeks to close down the Justice and Development Party(AKP) on grounds it is trying to impose fundamentalist Muslim ideas on the nation.

It is clear there is a trust gap on the part of Turkish secular leaders regarding the intention of the AKP’s goals regarding fostering fundamentalist Muslim customs and beliefs on the population. Prime Minister Erdogan insists “the democratic system is working: but the evidence is overwhelming that distrust and fears are powerful emotions which are dividing secular forces from the government.

Turkish Courts Move Toward Closure

The Turkish Constitutional Court is moving toward a decision within the coming weeks that will most probably result in closing down the leading political party in the country on grounds it has violated the secular nature of the nation. The Chief Prosecutor is presenting his arguments and then the Justice and Development Party(AKP) will offer a rebuttal. After both sides have been heard, a court appointed rappoteur will present a non-binding opinion on the case. Members of the court will meet in a closed session to discuss the case and reach their conclusions.

The AKP is seeking a quick verdict which they expect will go against them. Prime Minister Erdogan and, most probably, about 70 other members of Parliament will be banned from running for office for several years. The AKP will be dissolved and its members forced to organize a new political party.

The Justice and Development Party is an important one for the Muslim world. As of this date, it has respected secular institutions except for the case of allowing women to wear a headscarf while attending college. Turkey has some flaws in its democracy, but it does stand out in the Muslim world as a nation that wants to move in the direction of modernity.

Is Turkish Military Planning Defense Of Secularism?

Military leaders of Turkey have long regarded themselves as the defender and upholder of secular values of Ataturk who founded the modern nation. They have been following rather closely the current case being reviewed by the Constitutional Court regarding charges brought by the Public Prosecutor who claims the Justice and Development Party(AKP) is endeavoring to over throw secularism and impose an Islamist form of government. A newly established newspaper, Taraf, charges the General Staff has prepared an extensive plan of action to manipulate the press and other agencies of Turkey to gain widespread support for the expected decision by the Constitutional Court to order the closing down of the AKP.

The General Staff issued a strong denial of the charges made by Taraf even though it is quite apparent Turkish military leaders would welcome the closure of the AKP. Regardless of whether or not there is a concerted plan of action, there is no doubt leading generals will support the Court decision in every manner than can possibly utilize.