Turkey’s Court of Cassation fails to elect president in tenth round

Members of the Court of Cassation, Turkey’s highest court of appeals, failed to elect a new president in the tenth round since none of the candidates, including the current president, could secure an absolute majority.

Duvar English

In the tenth round of Turkey’s Court of Cassation’s presidential elections held on March 28, no candidate could achieve the absolute majority again.

The current president, Mehmet Akarca, was elected as the president of the country’s highest court of appeals in 2020, and the members of the high court started voting to elect a new president on 25 March when his 4-year term expired.

In order to be elected president, at least 175 votes, which is the absolute majority of the 348 members of the Court of Cassation, must be obtained.

The first round of the election started with five candidates, but the number of candidates decreased to three after the fourth round.

Current President Akarca, President of the 3rd Chamber of the Court of Cassation Muhsin Şentürk, and President of the 3rd Civil Chamber of the Court of Cassation Ömer Kerkez competed in the remaining rounds. In the eighth round of the election, while Kerkez received 123 votes and Akarca received 115 votes, Şentürk received 96 votes and was left out of the elections.

Therefore, the ninth and tenth rounds of the election were held on March 28 between Akarca and Kerkez. As a result of the last round of voting, Akarca received 120 votes and Kerkez received 138 votes; hence, they could not garner the absolute majority once again.

While the participation in the election was recorded as 338, nine of the votes cast were blank and 71 were invalid.

Akarca won the first round of the election, Kerkez won the second, third, fourth, and fifth rounds, Akarca won the sixth and seventh rounds, and Kerkez won the eighth, ninth, and tenth rounds.

Nomination applications will be taken again as per the procedure and five rounds will be held again with new candidates starting on April 1. 

Who supports whom?

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.