The judiciary has traditionally been the most troubled branch of government in Turkey. The Kemalist single-party regime had positioned the courts as the proprietor and guardian of the official ideology. Whenever the military could not directly intervene, the judiciary would step in to keep a lid on civilian politics and discipline society. The courts rose to greater prominence in the aftermath of the 1980 military coup, when the international arena became less welcoming of military involvement in politics. Thus they used constitutional power to become the chief protector of the tutelage regime.
For eight decades, the judiciary remained biased and independent of civilian politics, as the Kemalist establishment intended. It was therefore that the AK Party, a peripheral force that transformed the political center, could not eliminate the tutelage regime by pushing the military out of civilian politics alone. The judiciary, too, needed to be restructured – an issue that the administration addressed by violating the principle of the separation of powers to interfere in the judiciary's affairs. Meanwhile, the biased and ideologically-charged attitude of the courts evolved into a politics of resistance, to which the AK Party responded by staffing the high courts with new judges. This move left the judiciary vulnerable to an "invasion" by the Gülen Movement and turned the courts into an instrument of power for a socio-religious community.
The struggle continues today, and the judiciary remains unable to live up to the standards of democratic nations. To make matters worse, the ongoing conflict has become part and parcel of a broader division between the advocates and opponents of the AK Party. What could be the duty of intellectuals in such a situation? Probably to identify the judiciary's historic and institutional qualities, to distinguish between the administration's rights and wrongs, and finally to criticize all the wrongdoings.
To be fair, the AK Party's supporters fare better against this criteria than their adversaries. It is quite difficult to spot authors or academics advocating the party's mistakes. Instead, there is an effort to understand and explain why the authorities committed such wrongs. The opponents, in contrast, act as if they are completely isolated from the real world when comes to the judiciary: They refuse to address the inherent qualities of this branch and exclusively claim that the administration has violated judicial independence to categorically demand rectification. Having imagined a "universal" truth, they request that Turkey institute the separation of powers accordingly.
The separation of powers, however, refers to a set of relations. In a political system where the individual agents engaging in these relations do not have "universal" qualities, is it possible for the relations themselves to live up to these universal principles?
The above-mentioned state of tension and conflict motivated pro-AK Party intellectuals to highlight the element of impartiality, while their adversaries emphasized the importance of independence. Such positions might perhaps serve a purpose in politics, but the key question, how critical a given individual can be toward their own side when it comes to intellectual credentials, remains. In other words, AK Party supporters, if they claim to be intellectuals, cannot turn a blind eye to the violations of judicial independence. The party's opponents, in turn, have to acknowledge the fact that the judiciary is not impartial.
Pro-AK Party commentators have been careful to follow the above criteria, but others strive to distract public attention away from the question of judicial impartiality. It would seem that political defeat entails intellectual demise. The eagerness to undermine the AK Party by all means necessary has largely compromised the intellectual standards of the opposition. That individuals who regard themselves modern, educated and enlightened gradually turn into "literati" represents a sad but historically significant process.
to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the
used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan
ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen