Top judicial body dismisses judge who objected to Erdoğan’s third-time candidacy

Turkey's top judicial body HSK on July 6 dismissed judge Ahmet Çakmak after he objected to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s third-time candidacy in the 2023 Presidential Elections.

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The Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) on July 6 dismissed judge Ahmet Çakmak from the profession after he was relocated twice during an investigation regarding his objection to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s third-time candidacy in the 2023 Presidential Elections, according to reporting of the daily Cumhuriyet

According to the Law on Judges and Prosecutors, a person sentenced to be relocated twice is dismissed from the profession. 

Ahmet Çakmak was sentenced to be relocated twice as a result of investigations opened for reasons such as “using bold fonts in official correspondence,” saying “I will apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for the allegations in my file that can be part of a sketch comedy,”  in a petition, and asking for training to the prosecutor who asked for the arrest of a 12-year-old child.

Çakmak has been suspended from duty while the appeal process against the dismissal decision continues. The decision has not yet been communicated to Çakmak.

Çakmak's lawyer said that the HSK is continuing the tradition of the Gülenists, which attempted a coup in 2016 after infiltrating the state and dismissing opposition from state cadres for many years. He stated, “The judiciary is in the hands of the government.”

After Erdoğan announced that he would run for office for the third time in the May 14 presidential elections and the Supreme Election Council (YSK) approved his candidacy, thousands of people as well as political parties filed applications with the YSK.

Judge Çakmak was amongst those who objected to Erdoğan’s candidacy. 

In his appeal to the YSK on March 28, Çakmak reminded that anyone with the qualifications to vote can object to the candidacy and emphasized that he made the application "as a citizen." Drawing attention to the fact that Erdoğan was elected president twice in 2014 and 2018, Çakmak noted in the appeal that the decision to renew the elections was taken by the president, not the Turkish Grand National Assembly, and said that "Erdoğan cannot be nominated for president."

Erdoğan became president for the first time in the presidential elections held in 2014.

He later took office as the first president of the new executive presidential system in the elections held in June 2018.

Article 110 of the Constitution says that “A person may be elected as the President of the Republic for two terms at most,” whereas Article 116 says “If the Assembly decides to renew the elections during the second term of the President of the Republic, he/she may once again be a candidate.”

However, it was Erdoğan who decided to renew the elections. Despite this, the YSK rejected the objections against President Erdoğan's candidacy.

Pro-government figures argued that the presidential elections in 2014 were held under the “old (parliamentary) system” and the elections in 2018 were held under the “new (presidential) system.” The main argument of those who defend this view is that everything has been “reset” with the new system initiated after the 2017 referendum consolidating the presidential system.

Erdoğan emerged victorious with 52.18 percent of the votes against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the presidential runoff.