Justice in Turkey elevated to the clouds
The headline in one of the pro-government newspapers on April 3 was “A fully independent HSYK will elevate justice.” The HSYK is the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors. Representatives of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) claim that approval of the constitutional changes in the April 16 referendum will elevate Turkey in several aspects, including justice.
If the changes are approved, the council’s name will no longer be the HSYK, but the HSK. But This is an acceptable and reasonable mistake for the newspaper. In its front page story, it wrote that “In the new system, the HSYK will be named the Council of Judges and Prosecutors [HSK] and the number of its members will be decreased to 13. Four of the members will be selected by the president and seven will be selected by parliament. The HSK will be an independent and democratic organ, entirely reflecting the national will.”
Four plus seven equals 11. Who selects the remaining two members? Perhaps you may wonder whether the editors in that paper lack arithmetic skills, but in fact they do not write it deliberately to fool their readers. In fact, the other two members are also selected by the president: One of them is the justice minister, the other is the undersecretary of the ministry.
In other words, six of the 13 members are selected by the president alone.
For those members to be selected by parliament, a qualified majority is required. If a qualified majority cannot be reached, lots will be drawn between the two candidates who have received the most votes. Nobody will be able to be a member of the HSK if they are not approved by a majority of parliament. In any case, it will be the president, as the head of the ruling party, who will be selecting the parliamentary majority.
Certainly, this council will be made up of an “independent and democratic body totally reflecting the national will.”
Justice truly will be elevated to the sky, and will never return to this land again.
Three presidential terms are possible
One of the arguments used to deceive people in the AKP’s “yes” campaign is the claim that the president can be elected only for two terms.
According to Article 101 of the constitution, the president can only be elected for a maximum two terms. But there is also Article 116, which the AKP does not mention. If this change is approved, the president and the head of the majority party in parliament can be elected for a third time.
Parliament is able to re-run elections with the vote of three fifths of the total number of seats. In this case, the president should also be re-elected. And both elections can be held on the same day. Article 116 reads as follows: “During the second term of the president, in the event that the parliament decides to renew elections, then the president can run for office one more time.”
In other words, if the majority of the parliament that the president controls decides to renew elections as the president approaches the end of their second term, then they will have the right to run for office for a third five-year term.
Of course, people may argue that political ethics would not allow this. But let us not forget that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
What is the guarantee that a president who has enjoyed the taste of “absolute power” will eventually agree to give up this power willingly?