Three lawmakers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) were sent to the party’s joint disciplinary committee with a request for their definitive expulsion after publically expressing criticism over the graft scandal that has shaken the government.
AKP’s Central Executive Board (MYK) held a meeting late on Dec. 26 before announcing that it decided to send three dissident lawmakers – former Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay, İzmir MP Erdal Kalkan and Ankara MP Haluk Özdalga – to be disciplined “for their verbal and written remarks stigmatizing [the] party and the government.”
Kalkan announced his resignation from the AKP before waiting for the final decision of the committee via Twitter, taking aim at his party for showing defiance against corruption allegations. “I resign from the AKP letting you know that the world is turning and our people are not stupid,” Kalkan said, slamming Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for not accepting any internal criticism inside the AKP.
“Political parties are not [entities that can be managed] as if someone owns the place. Particularly Mr. Tayyip Erdoğan. They are social entities brought into existence by millions of people,” Kalkan said.
Kalkan became the second lawmaker to step down from the AKP after former Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin over the graft investigation in which four ministers, all replaced by a cabinet reshuffle on Dec. 25, have been implicated.
Günay, a senior figure who drew attention with his criticisms on social media following the police crackdown on demonstrators during the Gezi protests, is expected to make a press statement later Dec. 27.
Özdalga for his part, came to the fore after calling on President Abdullah Gül to intervene over the graft allegations in what he described as a “state and democracy crisis.” A former head of the Parliament’s Environment Commission, Özdalga had campaigned for Turkey to become a party to the Kyoto Protocol in 2009 and is considered among the “liberal” names of the AKP.
Twenty-four people have been formally arrested under the corruption investigation that hit Turkey last week, including the sons of former Interior Minister Muammer Güler and former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, who handed over their portfolios Dec. 26 after resigning. Former Environment Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar’s son was also briefly detained during the investigation.
Egemen Bağış also lost his EU minister portfolio as his name was connected with Iranian-origin businessmen Reza Zarrab, considered as the key suspect in the investigation, particularly regarding his transfer of gold and money to Iran via Turkey’s government-controlled Halkbank.