Refah Partisi v. Turkey, (41340/98)  ECHR
491 (31 July 2001)
Facts: The applicants were Refah Partisi (“RP”), a Turkish
political party, its chairman and two other members. The RP was accused of
being "a centre of activities against the principle of secularism"
and was thereby dissolved and had its assets transferred to the Treasury by an
order of the Constitutional Court.
The other applicants were banned from their sitting in Parliament and holding
certain other forms of political office.
Complaint: The applicants complained of a violation of Article11 (freedom of association)
of the European Convention on Human Rights
Holding: no violation of article 11.
Reasoning: Even when campaigning for changes constitutional structures of the
State, political parties continued to enjoy the protection of the provisions of
the Convention and of Article 11 if their actions are consistent with
democratic principles. Even if States' margin of appreciation was narrow in the
area of the dissolution of political parties, here the RP’s intentions were unclear
and might have jeopardized civil peace and the country's democratic regime
because the leaders had declared their intention to establish a system of law
in contrast to the values embodied in the Convention. Accordingly, the
sanctions imposed on the applicants met the social need for the protection of
democratic society and were justified and not in violation of article 11.