Chapter on Turkey
Emre Turkut & Serkan Köybaşı, “Chapter on Turkey” in Richard Albert, David Landau, Pietro Faraguna and Simon Drugda (eds.) The I·CONnect-Clough Center 2019 Global Review of Constitutional Law, The Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy, 2020
A wise man once said: ‘Just when you think things cannot get any worse, they will.’ The year 2019 was such a dramatic year for Turkey. The agenda was as loaded as ever. In early 2019, the stinging defeat of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the municipal elections made international headlines. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) managed to record a resounding victory by winning mayoral elections in the country’s three largest cities – Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. The AKP and the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lodged an extraordinary appeal with the Turkish Supreme Board of Elections seeking the cancellation of the Istanbul polls due to alleged irregularities. In a rather controversial decision, the Turkish electoral board decided to annul and renew the metropolitan election in Istanbul that saw the CHP’s candidate Ekrem Imamoğlu winning the mayoral position. In June 2019, the AKP suffered another blow as Imamoğlu massively increased his majority. In the aftermath of the March 2019 elections, the arrests and arbitrary dismissals of democratically elected mayors affiliated with the Kurdish movement continued apace. Since last year’s elections, more than 30 elected mayors of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) were removed (under the usual terrorism pretext) and replaced with government-appointed trustees. Moreover, Turkey’s military ‘Peace Spring’ operation in Syria also attracted a lot of international attention. Most importantly, the full entry-into-force of Turkey’s new presidential system in July 2018 and its over one-year implementation received the most attention and shaped much of the constitutional agenda of the country in 2019. This chapter first zooms in on the implementation of Turkey’s new presidential system, as it was the most important constitutional development in 2019. It then reports on the cases of the Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC) during that year under three categories, and finally looks ahead to several important issues that will arise next year, including possible vacancies in the TCC and interesting pending cases.