Erdoğan now at odds with Constitutional Court

Erdoğan now at odds with Constitutional Court

The tendency actually started before the March 30 local elections, but it has continued afterward, despite the 45 percent Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan managed to secure regardless of the corruption allegations against his government.

This tendency is to not leave Erdoğan unanswered. Almost everyone, even top public personalities who are either criticized or thoroughly dressed down by Erdoğan, now replies to him, no matter what the subject.

The latest example is Haşim Kılıç, the top judge of Turkey’s Constitutional Court.

Right after the Constitutional Court (AYM) announced its decision to lift the government ban on Twitter, (which was accused by Erdoğan of carrying “false” information about corruption allegations to people), it was subject to criticism by the prime minister. Erdoğan had said that he knew he had to implement the decision, but he has “no respect” for such an “un-national” ruling.

Kılıç responded to Erdoğan on every one of those criticisms and more yesterday, April 7.

First of all, he said that he found Erdoğan’s “no respect” remark as an “emotional reflex,” but also as “understandable.” That is a difficult comment to digest, especially for Erdoğan.

Than, Kılıç said the AYM’s job was not to make “national rulings,” but to make rulings in accordance with universal law. He remind Erdoğan of Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution, which says that in the event of contradictions, the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights are superior to Turkish legislation.

Another criticism by Erdoğan was the AYM’s apparent rush to lift the ban. Kılıç said that when freedoms are under consideration, the courts can give necessary priority. He also added that the AYM actually made the ruling five days ago, unanimously, but had to announce its implementation only when there was sign from the government. So, in a way, the top judge gently and indirectly said the Constitutional Court had to push the government in public to make it implement a court decision.

Kılıç also said something else that could get on Erdoğan’s nerves, in answer to a reporter’s question. Erdoğan had said the rulings of the Supreme Election Board (YSK) regarding objections to local election vote counts would have the “final word.” But Kılıç said the Court would decide what to do with them if and when such an application is made. This is not an outright confirmation that such applications will be accepted, but it does leave the door open for applications.

It is clear that Erdoğan is 100 percent determined in his actions and words that he wants to cleanse the Gülenists, not only from the bureaucracy but also from non-governmental sectors. There are signs that a real operation is on its way.

On the other hand, he wants to secure the presidency, for which elections will be held in August, either for himself or for President Abdullah Gül.

But trying to keep his influence strong and steady with a continuous show of power until the presidential election, for which he would need 50 percent plus 1 vote, has limits. It could also backfire at some point.

Those recent responses to Erdoğan might indicate that we are getting closer to that point.