Vote of judges and prosecutors board fueling polarization in judiciary

Vote of judges and prosecutors board fueling polarization in judiciary

ANKARA Mesut Hasan Benli / Nuray Babacan
Vote of judges and prosecutors board fueling polarization in judiciary

Ünal said shady groups are trying to take over Turkey's judicial system.

The upcoming elections at the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) has turned into a political battlefield, with the government vowing to fight against any attempts by the “parallel structure” to take over the judicial system.

The government has already lost a first round vote for elections to the Supreme Court of Appeals election, an aspect of voting at the HSYK. No government allies were elected to any of the three permanent seats at the court, daily Hürriyet reported, adding that one of the members was known as a social democrat, antithetical to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The other two members, the same report said, were on a list that is also backed by court members close to the Gülen movement, which is at odds with the government.

Only one member known for ties to the Unity in Justice Platform (YBP), allegedly linked to the government, was elected as the third substitute member.

The defeat of the YBP came as a result of an alliance by the remaining judges and prosecutors, sources said.

A group that was behind the so-called "coup attempt" in December 2013 is trying to take over the judiciary in Turkey via certain alliances, said Mahir Ünal, a deputy leader of the ruling AKP’s parliamentary group, while commenting on the upcoming elections at the HSYK.

“A coup in the judiciary is identical to a military coup for us,” Ünal said.

“If a particular group wins these elections, then we will do what is necessary,” he also said, adding that his party would subsequently dismiss the elections as illegitimate.

Ünal's remarks could be seen as rather ironic, as the AKP is known for its continual rhetoric about respecting the results of the ballot box in all elections.

He also signaled that the AKP might consider a legal change in the election system for the HSYK.

The remaining 10 full members and six substitute members of the court will be selected in the elections on Oct. 12. Before that, two full members and two substitute members will come from the Council of State elections on Sept. 29.

The government has already launched a campaign against the Gülen movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, claiming that it was behind a large graft probe in December 2013 that sought to stop massive alleged corruption among Cabinet ministers. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have said the fight against the Gülenists, who they describe as a“parallel state,” is a priority.