While President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
was answering questions on private broadcaster ATV the other evening, he spoke about the proposed amendments on the constitution. In the new system, to form the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), he said, “The president is able to appoint only four members. The parliament can appoint seven members with a three fifth majority. It is a shame that [main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal] Kılıçdaroğlu says the parliament is disengaged.”
When I read this statement on the papers, I thought, “Not only our people and the deputies who will vote in favor of the amendments, but neither does the president fully know what the changes are set to introduce.”
According to the proposal, the council will be made up of 12 people working in two departments. The Justice Minister will be the head of the council. The undersecretary of the Justice Ministry will be the “natural” member of the council.
These two people will be appointed by the president as the heads of the executive; and this appointment is not subject to any kind of parliamentary approval, and so on.
Three members of the council are to be selected by the president among first class judicial judges and prosecutors; one member is selected among first class administrative judges and prosecutors.
In this case, the president will be selecting (2+4), thus six members of the council personally, not “four members” as he said on TV.
The parliament will select three members from the members of the Supreme Court of Appeals, one member from the members of the Council of State, three members from academia, and lawyers.
The candidates to be selected by the parliament will be voted at the Parliamentary Justice and Constitution committees. In the parliamentary committee, the ruling party has the majority. Thus, without any need for a consensus, the government will be able to direct the votes to certain candidates and make them win.
The same majority will be able to repeat the same procedure at the general assembly of the parliament and the members would be determined by the ruling party alone.
In other words, it is not like what the president said, it is not that the candidates need to obtain three fifths of the votes; the result depends on a simple majority.
Since the president is at the same time the head of the ruling party, then who selects the candidates?
The council that will be formed as such will later select members of the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State; it will also make the appointments and promotions in the judiciary.
When a council that is directly determined by the political authority is at the top of the judiciary, can one talk about the independence of that judiciary?
This is an offer that totally abandons the separation of powers and with this feature it lays the legal ground for the country to be ruled by an authoritarian one-man regime. Why did they not obey the Prime Minister?
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım was on a live TV show on March 6 on ATV and spoke about the developments happening on the prevention of referendum propaganda campaigns abroad.
“There are similar problems in certain European countries, such as Germany. In the Netherlands, there are elections on the March 15. We think these are somehow associated with this because there is a little vote difference with the current ruling party and the extremist Geert Wilders’ party; for this reason it does not seem to be possible to hold any activity in the Netherlands before their elections. But I don’t think the Netherlands would have any restrictions after their elections,” he said.
We know what happened afterward. The Foreign Minister wanted to go to the Netherlands, but his plane was not allowed to land. Upon this, the Family and Social Policies Minister wanted to cross to the Netherlands from Germany by car and hold a meeting in the Netherlands.
And from then on hell broke loose. The Netherlands deported the minister in a way unacceptable in a democracy. They detained our consul and exerted disproportional and brutal violence against Turks who wanted to protest this.
Turkey is seeking legal remedies upon this stance of the Netherlands, which is of course justified.
However, there is one thing we still have a hard time understanding. Despite the Prime Minister’s previous thought that “the Netherlands may give such a permit after their elections,” why was this imposition and this force done?
Didn’t the ministers obey the Prime Minister? Did they not ask for permission from the Prime Minister? If the Prime Minister gave them permission, then why did he change his mind on March 6? If the Prime Minister did not allow them, where did the ministers get permission from?