Government pleased with vote results for top Turkish judicial body
Candidates reportedly supported by the government scored an overwhelming success in a key vote at the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has not hidden its pleasure over preliminary results in a key vote at Turkey's top judicial body, in which candidates reportedly supported by the government scored an overwhelming success.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu hailed members of judiciary for displaying their “free will.”
“Not permitting the independence of the judiciary and the judiciary itself in Turkey to be held hostage by any group is the most important leg of the entire efforts for economic development and political democratization. Yesterday [Oct. 12], our members of the judiciary gave the best message on this issue to our entire society via the use of their free will,” Davutoğlu said on Oct. 13, in an apparent reference to a lengthy and fierce battle between the government and what it describes as the “parallel state” to gain dominance at the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).
Almost 14,000 judges and prosecutors from the four corners of the country cast votes on Oct. 12 to elect 10 full members and six substitute members of the HSYK. According to preliminary results, candidates reportedly close to the government who gathered under the Unity in Justice Platform (YBP) won all seven seats that have been allocated for members of the civil judiciary, while they also won one seat allocated for members of the administrative judiciary.
Two independent candidates, reportedly close to the “parallel state,” won two seats allocated for the administrative judiciary. The “parallel state” is the phrase the government uses to describe followers of the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fetullah Gülen.
“I thank them [members of judiciary] once more for the democratic election that they held and for confirming the judiciary’s determination to build justice in the upcoming period,” Davutoğlu also said.
The Oct. 12 vote was the third round for electing the new HSYK members. In the previous two rounds, which took place at the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State, candidates who were reportedly close to the government were not elected as full members.
Ahead of those votes, some in the government had vowed to cancel the results if members of the “parallel state” won, in marked contrast to the government’s oft-repeated line that it respects all results from the ballot box.
The body’s general assembly has a total of 22 members and four of them will be assigned by the president. The Justice Ministry chairs the HSYK, while the undersecretary of the ministry is assigned as a natural member. A member of the body is elected by the Justice Academy, which will conduct an election on Oct. 16. Following a constitutional referendum in 2010, the structure of the HSYK was reshaped.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, speaking to reporters late Oct. 12, interpreted the preliminary results as the judiciary’s resistance against “the hegemony of a cemaat [community].”
“Our judges and prosecutors got rid of the epithet which was attached to them. They said ‘no’ to the hegemony a community aspired to build on top of the judiciary. Today, they made a decision by saying, ‘We are the judiciary of the nation, not of a cemaat,” Bozdağ said.
"Cemaat" is one of the terms used to refer to the followers of Gülen, who has been in voluntary exile in the United States for over a decade. The AKP alleges that the Gülen movement, an erstwhile ally, has attempted to topple the government through its followers in the state apparatus.