What does the AKP manifesto say?
In the election manifesto of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) read out by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, there are aspects to be applauded and others to be criticized, as in the manifestos of other parties.
I will criticize an aspect related to law that I see as dangerous. First, let me emphasize that all political parties are in a populist race. They are making plenty of pledges, but you cannot distribute bigger slices before making the cake bigger. We have not been able to clear the wreckage left over from the late Süleyman Demirel’s “early retirement” populism introduced during the 1991 elections.
In the ruling party’s election manifesto, there were of course very good expressions about law and justice. But there was this concrete declaration:
“In the top management of justice and with the formation of appeals courts, we will strengthen the role of the parliament, thus strengthening the social legitimacy of justice.”
In administrative councils such as the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), it is natural and necessary that parliament selects members with a qualified majority given that those members coming from the justice system constitute the majority in the court. Parliament of course selects members for the Constitutional Court, which reviews the laws passed by parliament. However, the expression that “the role of parliament will be strengthened with the formation of appeal courts” can never be accepted.
This is a dangerous tendency that even exceeds the concept of “majoritarian democracy.”
Appeal courts such as the Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargıtay) examine the verdicts of lower courts for their compliance with the law.
Will parliament select members for the Supreme Court of Appeals? Will parliament also select the members of the Council of State (Danıştay), which works as the Yargıtay in the field of administrative justice? There is no example of this in mature democracies. Other than that, we know from the draft submitted by the AKP to the parliamentary commission that the phrase “the parliament selects” means “the ruling party selects.” This will be the end of the independence of justice.
I wonder if those who penned this section of the manifesto took the Supreme Court of the United States as an example with the thought of preparing for the presidential system.
There, new members of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president and the Senate approves or rejects them.
However, do we have the separation of powers that the U.S. has here? In the AKP manifesto, the separation of powers is not adequately emphasized.
Also, the members of the U.S. Supreme Court are selected for life; they are far from the influence of those who selected them, meaning they do not have any expectation of a new duty from those in power. Also, the culture of the separation of powers is very strong. Judges do not even stand up in front of the president.
In the AKP manifesto, it says, “membership in high courts will be restricted to reasonable periods as in European examples.” However, we do not have lifelong tenures anyway. Could it be that a staff cleanup is being considered in the Constitutional Court by tempering with the terms of office? But this cannot be done without changing the constitution.
In the AKP’s manifesto from 2001, those clauses concerning the fight against corruption included measures that deputies’ immunities would be restricted to parliamentary work only and that in investigations such as corruption, there would be no immunity.
Do we see these in this manifesto? No, we don’t.
Finally, these words of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s are absolutely nice: You will definitely stay away from hate speech.”
He is sincere in his words and he himself is steering clear of hate speech. But I would not be surprised if one day the hitmen and the hitmen-like columnists won’t listen to the prime minister but will attack him instead.