Court of Cassation members fail to elect president for 16 rounds

Court of Cassation members failed to elect a new president in the 16th round of the elections that started on March 25 since none of the candidates including the last president could secure an absolute majority in any of the rounds.

Duvar English

Turkey’s Court of Cassation members on April 15 once again failed to elect a new president in the 16th round of elections.

As the current president Mehmet Akarca’s term ended on March 24, members of the country’s highest appeals court began voting for the new president on March 25.

In the initial 15 rounds of voting to elect the new president of the high court, tasked with a 4-year tenure, none of the candidates secured the requisite absolute majority of 175 votes out of the 348 Court of Cassation members. 

Consequently, a 16th round of voting was conducted on April 15.

The last president Akarca received 109 votes, the high courts’s 3rd Civil Chamber President Ömer Kerkez received 88 votes and the 3rd Criminal Chamber President Muhsin Şentürk received 105 votes. While 318 members participated in the election, four blank votes were cast and 12 of the votes were invalid.

The election will continue on April 16 with the 17th round of voting, as the absolute majority for the next round was not achieved after the last round.

Who supports whom?

This collage shows Akarca (L), Kerkez (C), and Şentürk (R)

According to information obtained by Deutsche Welle Turkish from the Court of Cassation, there have been negative reactions among the members to current president Akarca's "management approach.” 

Also while the conservative faction of the high court criticized Akarca for fulfilling the wishes of social democrat members and those close to the nationalist opposition Good (İYİ) Party, the government front has been hesitant, thinking he might “act as he wishes” as he will retire in four years.

On the other hand, some members reacted against Akarca due to the Court of Cassation’s rejection of implementing the Constitutional Court's (AYM) ruling on the release of imprisoned (former) lawmaker Can Atalay.

Şentürk, the head of the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation that did not recognize the AYM’s decision on Atalay, has been supported by some members close to the government and far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Kerkez, on the other hand, has been seen as "a popular name" among different groups in the Court of Cassation in terms of his human relations.

DW stated that Kerkez has a wide circle of contacts due to his past in the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) and the Justice Ministry.

Some social democrats, nationalists, and those who are resentful towards the Justice Ministry have supported Kerkez. Reportedly, some members close to the Islamic Menzil cult also voted in favor of Kerkez. 

Ömer Topaç, who was elected as a member of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) quota, also reportedly supported Kerkez.