Legal cases

Refah Partisi and Others v. Turkey

Legal case |
Refah Partisi and Others v. Turkey


(Application Nos. 41340/98, 41342/98 and 41344/98)

The case concerned the dissolution of a political party by the Turkish Constitutional Court on the grounds of protecting human rights and democratic values. The party was an Islamic inspired party and was, at the time of its dissolution, part of the ruling coalition, with 22% of the Turkish vote. Several of its members had, prior to gaining power, made statements that could be considered inciteful, and as a result had been expelled from the party. The Turkish courts held that the party supported the wearing of headscarves in schools and intended to introduce Islamic principles and Sharia Law, which would change the Turkish secular order and undermine democracy. The Grand Chamber unanimously upheld the dissolution of the Refah Party as compatible with the freedom of association guaranteed under the ECHR Article 11. They reasoned that as the polls predicted the Party winning a majority of seats at the next election, the State had a right of preemption to prevent a ‘seizure of power’. (§108+110) The Grand Chamber asserted that ‘an attitude that fails to respect [secularism] will not necessarily be protected under Article 9 of the Convention’s protection of freedom of thought and religion.’

Share this content