Zühtü Arslan reelected as Turkey's Constitutional Court President

Zühtü Arslan has been reelected as the Constitutional Court President for the third time against İrfan Fidan, despite President Erdoğan's support for the latter.

Duvar English

Turkey's Constitutional Court (AYM) members on Feb. 2 reelected Zühtü Arslan as the court's president for the third time in a row.

Arslan was reelected by receiving the votes of eight out of 15 members. Other candidates İrfan Fidan received five votes and Kadir Özkaya received two votes. 

Arslan was elected as a member of the Constitutional Court in 2012 and became the president in 2015 for the first time.

On the other hand, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan congratulated Arslan for his reelection. Accordingly, Erdoğan sent a message to Arslan and conveyed his congratulations and wishes of success to Zühtü Arslan.

During his term, the Constitutional Court had some controversial rulings that increased the tension between the court and President Erdoğan. After the top court ruled that journalists Erdem Gül and Can Dündar’s being held in prison is a violation of rights, Erdoğan stated that “Neither I abide the rule of the court nor respect it.”

Arslan was able to gather eight votes despite President Erdoğan's support for İrfan Fidan.

Erdoğan was favoring Fidan as the head of the AYM but Fidan's candidacy caused discomfort among the members of the court since he was just appointed as a member, according to reporting by DW Turkish.

Erdoğan appointed Fidan as AYM member less than two months ago.

The election will directly affect the closure case of the HDP

Arslan's reelection will directly affect the litigation processes in the court. Chief among these is the lawsuit filed for the closure of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party’s (HDP). The Kurdish opposition party has been on trial for “threatening the indivisible integrity of the state with its territory and nation.”

The HDP will present its substantive defense on March 14 as part of the closure case. As the reelected president, Arslan will moderate the remaining hearings. The balance in the top court is critical for the case.

While eight members voted in favor of freezing the HDP's bank accounts containing Treasury financial aid, seven members voted against it last month.