Constitutional Court as the new ‘coup’ HQ
Turkey’s political lunacy is not likely to end anytime soon. Its latest episode is the condemnation of the Constitutional Court as the headquarters of yet another “coup attempt” against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Here is the longer version of the story. Since the military regime of the early 80’s, Turkey has the highest “national election threshold” in the world. Unless a party receives 10 percent of the votes all across the county, it cannot put even a single deputy in the Parliament. The system is obviously designed to eliminate smaller parties and empower larger ones, for the sake of “stability.” But all democrats have criticized this unusually high threshold for being unfair against “representation.”
That is why almost every political figure gives lip service to “lowering the electoral threshold.” But when they achieve power, they never pass the legal amendment to lower the threshold, because it simply serves them well. The elimination of the smaller fish only makes the bigger fish, especially the biggest one, highly advantageous. That is why no one expects the AKP to lower, let alone abolish, the threshold — unless it becomes a must for the “peace process” with militant Kurdish nationalists.
Yet something unexpected happened earlier this week. The leader of the Great Union Party (BBP), a small right-wing party, appealed to the Constitutional Court, saying the 10 percent national threshold “violates their rights” to be represent the people. In return, the head of the Constitutional Court, top judge Haşim Kılıç, said to the press that the court will consider the appeal immediately and may give its verdict in 2-3 weeks. If the court decides to lower or abolish the threshold, he added, this would impact the upcoming elections in June 2015.
And hell broke loose. The pro-AKP media began to bombard Kılıç and the Constitutional Court. In several opinion pieces, he was condemned as the culprit of yet another “coup attempt” against the “national will.” Some even suggested he must be serving the “supra-intellect,” which is a mysterious center of evil that allegedly controls many pawns in Turkey and even the Middle East to topple the AKP and subdue its glorious “New Turkey.”
What is dramatic is that Kılıç, in fact, used to be the main judge the AKP folks had trusted and respected for years. He was the one who opposed the headscarf ban. He was the one who opposed the 2008 “closure case” against the AKP, and basically prevented a real “judiciary coup.” Yet, like many others who supported the AKP when it was the victim but refused to worship when it became the hegemon, Kılıç has become the AKP’s target over the past two years.
Where will we go from here? In my view, it does not seem very probable that the Constitutional Court will lower or abolish the threshold. Although it is a deeply unfair reality, at the end of the day, it is a matter that the Parliament can solve. So, I expect the 2015 elections to take place within the current system.
Yet my real worry is what the AKP is willing to do with the Constitutional Court in the long run. Since the institution is now condemned as an illegitimate “tutelage” on the “national will,” which practically means the will of those in power, we may end up with a new political design in which the Constitutional Court, one of the few remaining agents of checks-and-balances, will be practically eliminated. That would be, God forbid, the ultimate “triumph of the will.”