In the News: Turkey’s Leaders Survive Court Verdict

A constitutional court narrowly rejected calls for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul to be banned from politics. After a four-and-a-half month trial, judges voted 6 to 5 against an indictment accusing the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of pursuing an Islamist agenda and seeking to undermine the nation’s secular constitution. The court did, however, strip the party of half of its public funding for 2009. Earlier this year the AKP’s efforts to lift a ban on wearing headscarves at universities were overturned by the court. Devlet Bahceli, leader of the rival Nationalist Party, said the new verdict should show the AKP that its problems with the constitutional order could end up jeopardizing the democratic regime. Turkey’s parliamentary speaker, Koksal Toptan, said the ruling had “raised the democracy bar to a higher level.”

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