Toward a constitutional crisis [in Turkey]

İhsan Yılmaz
İhsan Yılmaz


Date posted: December 20, 2013

İHSAN YILMAZ

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has begun to dismiss all the police chiefs involved with the corruption probe.

The dismissals have also spread to other cities, such as Ankara and Izmir, and are expected to expand to 20 other provinces in the coming days. This shows that the AK Party is worried that several more investigations may be launched. The perception created is that the AK Party is replacing them with its most loyal police officers who will inform the government about any potential judicial investigation.

The police department is part of the Interior Ministry and the Interior Ministry has, of course, the legal right to rotate and replace police officers if there is a legal justification. The biggest problem here is that the one of the accused in the corruption investigation is the interior minister, who is at the top of this removal operation. Instead of resigning, he is dismissing numerous police officers who were involved in the judicial investigation. The government has been complaining that the police did not inform their superiors beforehand and as result the interior minister learned of his son’s detention from the media. What were they expecting? That they would inform the minister so that he could meddle with the investigation? This is not Norway, but even in Turkey, people laugh at this miserable reasoning of the government.

It must be underlined that these police officers were carrying out orders given to them by the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office. According to a recent law (Article 5 of the Criminal Enforcement Directive) that was enacted by the AK Party-led Parliament in 2005 in accordance with EU standards, these police officers are not obliged to give information to the interior minister or any other top officials aside from the prosecutors who are conducting the probe.

On the other hand, the two new prosecutors who have been hastily added to the case, most probably because of the government’s pressure, have now become de facto decisive actors in the investigation. The prosecutor who launched this case will not be able to make decisions without getting a signed document from one of these two new prosecutors. This speaks for itself and no further comment is needed.

In my most recent piece, I wrote that “the Erdoğan government’s initial reactions to the latest corruption investigation are not promising. It has indirectly interfered with the case The Erdoğan government may now be in panic. All that they have done so far only serves to create the image that they are trying to stop the investigation. Erdoğan does not seem to be in a mood to listen to anyone who thinks differently. This means that he will behave hastily and will continue to make mistakes. Yet, if he meddles with the judicial investigation too much, he may risk the democratic credentials of his government. A good strategy for him would be to ask his ministers who are under investigation to resign until the investigation is complete. Another good option is to call for early elections.”

As of today, all I can say is that my concerns have been confirmed and that the Erdoğan government continues to make mistakes, including indirectly interfering with the judiciary. Let me put it bluntly, this may pave the way for a very serious constitutional crisis in the country. Erdoğan and his advisers must see that controlling almost two-thirds of the media and almost silencing the remaining outlets with but a few, tiny exceptions, coupled with the inept opposition parties, created the Gezi incidents. I now risk being accused of being a conspirator, but will state my most serious concern here: If the government continues to give the impression that it is trying to stop the biggest-ever corruption investigation in the country, Gezi may repeat itself. It is clear that this may harm not only the AK Party, but also the Hizmet movement and Turkey. Only the AK Party can stop this from taking place by convincing people that it is not interfering with the judiciary and that it is fully against corruption. There are no signs of this taking place, but I hope that rationality and pragmatism will prevail over emotions and conspiracy theories in the AK Party.

Source: Today's Zaman , December 20, 2013


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