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Turkey Looks Ahead after Key Court Ruling

A day after the Constitutional Court voted in favor of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turks are looking forward, hoping to put internal conflicts aside.  
A vote of seven out of 11 judges was needed in order to reach a decision to ban the Islamist party. Six voted in favor, and the party was saved.
AKP was accused in mid-March of introducing Islamic law and customs in violation of the secular constitution. While the court rejected the demand to close the party, it issued a "serious warning" and said it hoped AKP would evaluate the outcome and "get the message."
The court’s chairman Hasim Kilic urged all actors in the country to take the necessary steps to reduce tension. "We believe that all segments of society should make an effort to achieve the conditions of living together after the decision."
The court ruling gave Turkey "a chance to solve social tensions," said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday night. Erdogan promised to keep the country on the road to European Union membership and pledged his party would never challenge Turkey’s secular principals.
The day after the ruling, the country’s leading newspaper Hurriyet suggests AKP now faces four options:
* To hold early elections in order to regain the public’s confidence;
* To reshuffle the cabinet or party-administrative bodies.
* To reduce tensions by developing mutually-agreed policies.
* To strike a deal with the opposition parties for constitutional amendments that would toughen conditions for party closure.
A combination of these options seems likely. Kilic himself urged all political parties to make legal arrangements to avoid any further party-closure cases. Kilic voted against the closure of AKP.
The vote disappointed the Turkish army, which regards itself as defender of the republic’s secular heritage. Nevertheless, the army’s chief, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, accepted the court’s decision.
"The Turkish Armed Forces stands where it did; its position has not changed. It continues to follow the Ataturk republic and the principles of the constitution," Buyukanit told reporters.