Turkey’s Constitutional Court has unanimously rejected the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)’s application to postpone the closure case against it until after the elections.
The Constitutional Court’s decision is in response to an application the HDP made to the court on 15 March, again asking for a postponement, citing both the impossibility of producing an oral defence due to effects of the earthquakes, and also that the date should be postponed given its potential impact on the elections. However, the court has denied their request to postpone the oral defence, which is set for 11 April.
The HDP’s Deputy co-Chair responsible for its Legal Commission, Serhat Eren, has stated that the party executive will scrutinise the court’s decision and make their position known on the oral defence and the case at a later time.
The case in question was originally initiated by the Chief State Prosecution attached to the Supreme Court in March 2021, demanding the closure of the HDP at the Constitutional Court.
On 9 March this year, the Constitutional Court decided by majority vote to lift a decision temporarily blocking the treasury funding for the HDP. At the same time it decided to delay the date for the oral defence in the party’s closure case by one month to 11 April, although the HDP had requested a three month delay.
The party’s co-chair Mithat Sancar said on 10 March that a party being shut down after MP lists were finalised for the elections would “have very severe consequences for Turkey’s democracy”, emphasising the HDP’s extremely strong support from the people and the impossibility of future politics in Turkey without the HDP.
Following the oral defence, the court rapporteur will draft a report, then the presiding judge Zühtü Arslan will set the date for the ruling. The court will deliver its final judgement on the closure of the HDP on that date, the prosecution and the party will be notified, and the decision will be published in the Official Gazette.
The closure case against the HDP will be decided by a 15-member Constitutional Court panel, which is expected to continue its deliberations without interruption until they reach a verdict.