October 13, 2014

Erdoğan knows no limit in violating Constitution under immunity

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is still acting as though he is prime minister and party leader, is trying to design politics in accordance with his own political agenda based on hatred and revenge and has come under fire for violating the Constitution by being politically partial and breaching the articles defining the president's authority and responsibilities.

Articles 101 to 106 of the Constitution regulate and define the president's powers and responsibilities. According to Article 101, which regulates the issue of impartiality, the president-elect, if he is a member of a party, shall sever his relations with his party while his status as a member of Parliament shall cease, which is in opposition to the practices of Erdoğan, who continues to act like the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) prime minister.

Article 103 which regulates the president's oath taking, clearly states that the president must assure the public that he will remain impartial while performing his duty.

However, Erdoğan's discourse and acts contradict the impartiality principle, which he has confirmed in his previous speeches, saying he will be “partial” while performing his tasks as president.

Article 106, which grants the president immunity, allows Erdoğan to engage in controversial practices like instructing the government, the judiciary and other state institutions to act in line with his policies targeting anyone or any group that put up a resistance to any Erdoğan-led smear campaigns.

Holding extraordinary powers, Erdoğan is accused of regularly breaching the Constitution by acting as though he is the prime minister by addressing masses in rallies across Turkey and trying to justify and legitimize his acts using the “New Turkey” slogan, a term coined by Erdoğan.

The lack of accountability appears to have stimulated Erdoğan's efforts to move the country towards becoming a party state and away from the rule of law.

Relying on his coined term the “parallel structure,” referring to the faith-based Hizmet movement, to create a scapegoat in the aftermath of the Dec.17 and Dec. 25 corruption investigations, Erdoğan is leading a witch hunt against the civil society group, ordering the purges of some members of the police force and operations against some policemen and threatening other segments of society in certain ways such as imposing tax penalties on several media groups and businessmen whose stance he is not pleased with.

There are only several institutions that Erdoğan has yet been unable to influence, such as the Constitutional Court, though he appears to have managed to dominate the country's top judicial body, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), in the aftermath of Sunday's HSYK elections.

İbrahim Kaboğlu, a professor of constitutional law at Marmara University, told Today's Zaman that the Constitution clearly defines the president's and the prime minister's powers.

“Erdoğan's language goes beyond the Constitution and violates [Prime Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu's scope of authority, as well as damages the government and the prime minister's ability to exercise the powers that were granted by the Constitution,” Kaboğlu said.

Speaking with Today's Zaman, Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a lawyer and a human rights activist, stressed that if Erdoğan gains full control of the government, the scope of pressure on society will be ratcheted up.

"He is using the 'parallel' term like a magic stick to label and smear anyone who does not share and approve his acts and manipulations. I believe he will speed up his attempts to eliminate freedoms in the coming days by gaining courage from the immunity that the Constitution has bestowed him. Erdoğan thinks he does not need democracy but he will one day realize that he will need it," Cengiz added.

Sacit Kayasu, a former prosecutor who was fired and disbarred, recalled Erdoğan's former remarks “I will be partial and act in accordance with my party's [the AK Party] political opinions,” stressing that Erdoğan is abusing his immunity under the Constitution and the impartiality principle.

"When the military regime drafted the current Constitution [in 1980] on the assumption that generals would always rule the country, they designed the immunity principle in line with this assumption. This principle should thus be rearranged and immunity should be lifted. Otherwise, Erdoğan and others may exploit it just as we are witnessing now," Kayasu stressed, speaking to Today's Zaman.

Erdoğan pushing 'parallel structure' to be declared terrorist

Erdoğan has also launched an initiative to declare the Hizmet movement as a terrorist group through a decision which will be taken in a National Security Council (MGK) meeting.

Accusing the movement of orchestrating a “plot” against the AK Party government and revealing the graft scandals implicating Erdoğan, his family and his inner circle, he frequently forges a link between the Hizmet and all forms of political impasse that the government is encountering.

According to Erdoğan and the government, the corruption investigations were conducted by police and prosecutors who have links to Hizmet. However, not a shred of evidence has been produced verifying these allegations. Recently, Erdoğan attempted to depict Hizmet as being linked to the recent violent protests across Turkey, triggered by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) siege of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, despite the fact that the movement has never been involved in any form of violence.

In the aftermath of Erdoğan's reported instructions to the government, the Davutoğlu government has allegedly prepared a proposal for Hizmet to be defined as a terrorist organization in a MGK meeting scheduled to be held in November, aiming to speed up the efforts to stamp out Hizmet via judicial proceedings, the Taraf daily said.

PM failed to appoint undersecretary due to Erdoğan veto

Confirming the two-headed executive branch dilemma in governing the country, Davutoğlu reportedly failed to appoint several key bureaucrats, including the Prime Ministry undersecretary whom he is planning to work with, due to the fact that Erdoğan has not approved these names for a month, Erdal Sağlam, an economy columnist for the Hürriyet daily, claimed on Monday.

Sağlam further detailed the earlier foreseen rift between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu over the assignments, writing that Davutoğlu wanted to assign Kemal Mağdenoğlu, the current undersecretary of the Ministry of Development, as the Prime Ministry undersecretary but Erdoğan rejected the proposal and suggested some other names for the position, which encountered Davutoğlu's refusal.

The impasse is reportedly hampering efforts by Davutoğlu and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan to enact planned reforms in the economy and other fields under the new governing term. In addition, Sağlam expressed the concerns raised by political and economic circles circulating around Ankara's corridors, which demand more reforms to put the economy back on track.

Opposition: Erdoğan removing Constitution via de facto coup

Republican People's Party (CHP) İzmir deputy Aytun Çıray has criticized Erdoğan for attending the AK Party congress and his remarks there, “I am the one who will create the practices.” Çıray submitted a parliamentary question to Davutoğlu on Monday, demanding to answer as to whether Erdoğan's words can be seen as treachery.

In his various remarks, Erdoğan's words "I will tell the prime minister to…" says a lot about how he sees his role and that of Davutoğlu: a prime minister who is expected to act under instructions from the president.

Bülent Tezcan, a member of the Justice Commission from the CHP, told Today's Zaman that Erdoğan is completely in contradiction of the requirements of the Constitution, underscoring that Erdoğan has failed to represent society as a whole due to the divisive language that he has regularly used.

"A hatred discourse polarizing people based on their ethnicities, identities and sects is not something that a president should resort to. He still acts like a party leader. We have a president who has lost his neutrality. He fails to represent everyone and damages the impartiality principle in the Constitution. A president cannot define a group as a scapegoat. If he continues with his divisive rhetoric, then Turkey may encounter a constitutional crisis stemming from Erdoğan's interference in the government," Tezcan noted.

Published on Today's Zaman, 13 October 2014, Tuesday