Turkey has been spared a major judicial crisis and probably a coup by the judges and prosecutors as the long awaited elections at the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) ended with a victory for a coalition of judiciary members opposed to the Gülen Movement.
The loss of these elections for the government or a victory for Gülenists would have meant serious turmoil in the judicial ranks where prosecutors and judges loyal to the Gülen Movement would unleash a flood of legal cases against government members, and that would not only paralyze the system but would send many people in high places behind bars. In short, it would be a judicial coup.
But now everyone in the government is sighing with relief. The nightmare scenarios will not be realized and the Erdoğan administration as well as the Davutoğlu government is in safe waters.
The government lost the elections at the Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargıtay) to Gülenists in a bitter defeat and thus had been working hard to prevent the same from happening in the HSYK elections. The government supported a coalition of judges and prosecutors comprised of its own supporters as well as from the nationalists and the left called the Unity in the Judiciary and won at the HSYK elections where Turkey's prosecutors and judges voted throughout the country to elect their own administrators and regulating body.
Members of the HSYK are elected by ballots at the Supreme Court of Appeals, the Council of State (Danıştay), the Judicial Academy as well as in the general polls held on Sunday. The president also names four members to the HSYK. The minister of justice and the undersecretary of justice are also members of the HSYK.
In the final analysis, seven of the 22 member of the HSYK are from the Gülen Movement and 15 are from the government side, including the nationalists and leftist candidates. The judges and prosecutors with sympathies to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) as well as the nationalists and leftists established a joint stance from seeing the Gülenist threat that would envelop the judiciary, and common sense prevailed.
We had the opportunity to talk to several independent judges and prosecutors over the weekend and they all agreed that the system of electing the HSYK members in the current form was riddled with flaws and a new system is needed. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ also accepted this declaring on Monday that the election system of the HSYK is defective and a serious overhaul is needed.
We feel reforms are needed, not only of the HSYK, but throughout the judicial system. In its current form, the judiciary is far from giving confidence to the public. The people have to feel deep in their hearts that the judiciary is working evenhandedly, and unfortunately, that is not the case today. Public confidence in the judiciary has to be restored.
Constitutional and other legal reforms are needed to create that confidence. The common sense displayed by our judges and prosecutors who managed to forge a grand coalition against the Gülenists among their ranks should also be displayed by our politicians in Parliament so a similar action can be taken for sweeping reforms. While we are undertaking these reforms we have to display a coolheaded approach. Yes, we need sweeping reforms, but that too does not mean just destroying what we had and creating something new. Everyone agrees that the HSYK elections are fundamentally wrong as they allow a major group like the Gülen Movement to hijack the judiciary and thus use it to launch a coup. But this is an extreme case that does not reflect a normal situation. Thus, when we take new measures we have to make sure that they are democratic and contemporary reforms and not reactions to the past.