Virtue Party (Fazilet Parti FP)
The Welfare Party which formed a coalition government with the True Path Party which had 158 seats in the TGNA in the 1995 elections, was closed down by the Constitutional Court in January of 1998 because the party was based on religious ideology, and had made radical religious declarations and undertaken such actions in violation of the secular Republic. The deputies which were left without a party joined the Virtue Party (FP) established at the end of 1997. Compared to the Welfare Party, the emphasis shifted to the extension of religious freedoms within the boundaries of the existing secular order. And the FP was much more market-friendly in economic policy and supportive of developing close relations with the European Union.
As a result of the 1999 general elections the DSP, MHP, FP, DYP, and ANAP attained the right to be represented in Parliament. The DSP placed first and MHP second in the elections. Though the FP was the third party, it did not receive as many votes as the closed RP. The DYP and ANAP which are the largest central right parties lost votes and the CHP, unable to pass the prerequisite of 10% of the votes, could not be represented in Parliament.
In May 1999, the State filed a motion to close the Islamist Fazilet (Virtue) Party for promoting antisecular activity and for representing the ideologies of the former Islamist Refah (Welfare) Party, which was banned in 1998. The indictment also called for banning Fazilet's leaders from politics for 5 years and stripping its over 100 Members of Parliament of their seats. In February 2001, the Constitutional Court's chief prosecutor updated the indictment, arguing that videotapes from Fazilet's May 2000 convention prove that it is a continuation of Refah, but seeking to strip only two parliamentarians of their seats. He noted that pictures of Refah leader and former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan were displayed prominently during the party convention.
An intense debate continued over the government ban on wearing Muslim religious dress in state facilities, including universities. The Government, especially the National Security Council (NSC), continued to press for measures to combat "Islamic fundamentalism" or "reactionism" and sought to punish the prominent leader of an Islamic religious community for alleged anti-state behavior. After 2 years of considering the matter, in June 2001, the Constitutional Court closed the Islamist-led Fazilet (Virtue) party, the country's largest opposition political group, for antisecular activities and expelled two of its members from Parliament. The FP, which deputies of the RP joined after its closure by the Constitutional Court, was closed down on June 22, 2001 due to its radical religious declarations and actions. Whereas some of the deputies of the FP then formed the Liberation Party (SP), others joined the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
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