Who is going to replace dismissed public employees?
According to a state of emergency decree published in the Turkish Official Gazette on Sept. 1, more than 40,000 public employees were dismissed from office over suspected links to the Gülenist network, which the government says was behind the bloody coup attempt of July 15.
Most of those have already been suspended from office. More than 28,000 of those dismissed are from the Education Ministry, mostly school teachers and principals. The list goes as follows: 7,669 from the police force, 2,346 from universities, 2,108 from the Health Ministry, 1,642 from Finance Ministry, 1,519 from the Religious Affairs Directorate and other government departments. The number of military officers who have already been dismissed from the Turkish Armed Forces since July 15 has exceeded 3,000.
It is not clear against how many cases will also be opened against the dismissed employees for being a member of the “Fetullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ)” and acting on its behalf to undermine the government. But it seems the wave of dismissals and court cases will continue.
On one hand, the dismissals do not rely on a court ruling and they are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court due to the state of emergency rules. On the other hand, there are claims that most of those positions might have been stolen from other citizens who actually deserved them through the systematic stealing of questions from examinations for military high schools, police colleges, universities and public employee tests by the Gülenist network over the last four decades.
That is a problem with legal and ethical dimensions. An equally important problem is about their replacements. Who is going to fill the gap in the official workforce?
The problem is more related to the sophistication and experience required for fields like counter-terrorism. Otherwise, Turkey with an official unemployment rate of around 10 percent, will not have much difficulty, for example, in closing the teacher gap in a short period of time. There are already tens of thousands of unemployed teachers craving jobs.
There is another, more political problem. From President Tayyip Erdoğan to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, government officials have been saying they have been deceived by the followers of Gülen, who supported the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) for a long time until 2012-13. But main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu says that the government positions emptied with the dismissal of allegedly Gülenist employees should not be filled with the members of other religious groups or secret organizations. There are certain other religious groupings like the Menzil Group, İskender Ağa group and others who are reportedly holding important government positions.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said in a recent press conference that the government is also sensitive about that and in order to provide equal opportunity to every citizen who deserved a place, they wanted to increase transparency in governance. There have been numerous similar promises in the past by former governments, but not much has been done so far. Let’s hope that the promises will be kept this time.