Turkish gov’t ally Bahçeli once again calls for closure of Constitutional Court

Turkish gov’t ally, ultra-nationalist MHP leader Bahçeli has once again demanded the “closure” or “restructuring” of the Constitutional Court over its rights violation ruling on Can Atalay who has been kept behind bars despite being elected as a lawmaker.

Duvar English

Turkish government’s coalition partner, far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Feb. 9 once again targeted the Constitutional Court (AYM) and demanded its closure. 

Speaking at a ceremony held for the 55th anniversary of the foundation of his party, Bahçeli criticized the AYM President Zühtü Arslan who said the other day that their rulings are binding even if not desirable.

“The President of the Court still shamelessly claims that the decisions of the Constitutional Court are final according to Article 153 (of the Constitution) and binding on real and legal persons. Since Article 153 of the Constitution does not cover individual rights violation decisions, what are you imposing? Who are you sending a message to? What are you serving?,” Bahçeli argued.

Article 153 of the Constitution reads “the decisions of the Constitutional Court are final… and shall be binding on the legislative, executive, and judicial organs, on the administrative authorities, and on persons and corporate bodies.”

“The Constitutional Court is now a national security problem. The president and the members of the Court have become enemies of the indivisible integrity of the state with its country and nation, and of social peace and security. It cannot go on like this, such a court structure cannot and should not take place among the higher judicial bodies in Turkey,” Bahçeli said.

“I reiterate that the Constitutional Court, which has shaken the domestic peace and tranquility with its scandalous violation of rights decisions and confirmed that it is a center for chaos, should either be closed down or restructured,” he added.

Bahçeli previously referred to the Constitutional Court as the “backyard of the separatist terrorist organization” and said that they will confront the AYM justices on the “judgment day” for not closing pro-Kurdish HDP. He also argued that the court president was working for the outlawed PKK.

On Feb. 8, AYM President Zühtü Arslan criticized the non-implementation of their decisions by the Court of Cassation in front of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President of the Court of Cassation Mehmet Akarca. 

Despite AYM ruled for the release of Can Atalay twice, the Court of Cassation unconstitutionally refused to comply with the judgment. Turkish Parliament has recently revoked Atalay’s deputyship.

Some reportings argued that the crisis between the Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court broke out amid the ongoing conflict between the far-right MHP faction in the former and the Islamic İskenderpaşa faction in the latter.

The judicial crisis between the Constitutional Court and Court of Cassation

The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation, Turkey's top appeals court, on Jan. 3 dismissed the second Constitutional Court (AYM) ruling that found rights violations in TİP MP Can Atalay’s imprisonment.

The AYM first on Oct. 25 ruled by a majority of votes that there was a violation of rights in the case of Atalay in terms of "the right to vote and be elected and the right to personal security and liberty."

The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation on Nov. 8 refused to comply with the AYM ruling. The court also filed a criminal complaint against AYM justices who voted for Atalay’s release, claiming they violated the constitution and exceeded their authority.

Then, the AYM on Dec. 26 released a statement and underscored that the "Court of Cassation has rendered a decision that is not found in Turkish law, stating non-compliance with the Constitutional Court's decision."

The AYM commented that referral of a case within the jurisdiction of the first-instance court to the Court of Cassation, top appeals court, and the latter’s decision disregarding constitutional provisions “clearly constituted a violation of the constitution.”

Atalay received an 18-year prison sentence for allegedly "attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey" during the 2013 Gezi Park protests. In the 2023 general elections, he was elected as Hatay deputy from the left-wing TİP.