The constitutional court has issued a ruling that suspends government powers to enact reforms by decree. The powers were enshrined in an enabling act passed by parliament to help the government press ahead with its 5 April reform programme through issuing some 45 decrees.

The court acted on complaints by the main opposition Motherland Party (ANAP) that the government was attempting to appropriate parliament’s legislative powers unconstitutionally. The ruling temporarily prevents the government from issuing further decrees with the force of law under the act until the court reaches a final verdict. This may take some time.

ANAP has also applied to the court for the annulment of six decrees already issued. These cover overtime payments in the civil service, the organisation and duties of the Justice Ministry, the establishment and administration of prisons and detention centres, two separating the treasury and foreign trade undersecretariat, and the organisation and functions of the women and social services undersecretariat.

The ruling will delay the introduction of even more important decrees at a time when the government is under pressure to act urgently to deal with the economic crisis in line with commitments made to the IMF (see page 12).

It is the second time the court has held up economic policy measures. Soon after her accession in June 1993, Prime Minister Tansu Ciller pushed similar enabling legislation through parliament. But subsequent decrees, notably on privatisation and banking reform, were blocked in the constitutional court.