A Love Letter from Strasbourg to the Turkish Constitutional Court

We can all breathe a sigh of relief: Turkey’s constitutional complaint mechanism is an effective domestic remedy. Said the European Court of Human Rights in its March 20th rulings, speaking for the first time on the issue of prolonged pre-trial detentions since the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. These judgments reflect the ECtHR’s continuing preoccupation with its docket crisis despite the rapid consolidation of authoritarian rule in Turkey.

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Think Twice before Speaking of Constitutional Review in Turkey

German journalist Deniz Yücel has been freed from the Turkish prison he was held captive for a year. That the partial undoing of an unjust judicial decision had nothing to do with human rights, and everything to do with “diplomacy” – as Gabriel admitted – became all the more evident a few hours later. While one court in Istanbul released Yücel, another sentenced seven Turkish journalists to aggravated life in prison on charges of involvement in the failed coup attempt on 15 July 2016. In addition to being the first conviction of journalists in relation to the putsch attempt, the ruling is also remarkable due to its implications for Turkey’s constitutional regime.

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Is the Turkish Constitutional Complaint System on the Verge of a Crisis?

Last week, the Turkish Constitutional Court delivered two decisions on the constitutional complaints of two journalists, finding their detention to be unconstitutional. The Courts of Assize declared the decisions as void because of “usurpation of competence” and refused to enact them. A constitutional crisis seems to be deepening – at least in the short term.

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Will Legalism be the End of Constitutionalism in Turkey?

On 11 January 2018, Turkish constitutionalism entered a new phase of decay. This phase was not triggered by criticism of its judgments by the government nor by the retreat of constitutional protections by the Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC) nor by constitutional court packing as seen in Hungary or Poland. Instead, first instance courts became the newest actors to challenge the authority of the country’s constitution and how it is interpreted by the TCC. The new rebels against Turkish constitutionalism are ordinary judges.

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Taking the EU-Turkey Deal to Court?

The EU-Turkey deal on the return of refugees is one of the most controversial policy steps taken by the EU in recent years. The EU General Court chose to sidestep the difficult legal questions raised by the deal by dismissing these cases, ruling it had no jurisdiction to review the deal on the ground that the Statement was not an act of Union institutions, but that of Member States. Will the CJEU use this opportunity to set the record straight by establishing who had the competence to conclude the EU-Turkey deal?

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Rethinking Turkish Secularism: Towards “Unofficial” Islamic Constitutionalism?

There are both domestic and foreign concerns that Turkey is a theocracy in the making or some “attenuated” version thereof.  While most of these concerns are full of extravagant exaggerations, often suggesting Iran as an example Turkey is allegedly headed towards, there is a certain element of truth embedded in these concerns.

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The Constitutional Referendum in Turkey: A far Stretch from Right to Free Elections to Referenda?

The Constitutional referendum in Turkey left many voters uncertain about the actual outcome: Unstamped ballots were registered as valid and an appeal against that procedure did not show any satisfying results. Will an appeal in front of the ECtHR show more favourable results?

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Abusive comparativism: “Pseudo-comparativist” political discourse as a means to legitimizing constitutional change in Turkey

The constitutional amendment process has arguably weakened Turkey’s already-fragile constitutionalist system. This is well known. What is less known and pretty much overlooked is that comparativism and specifically comparative constitutionalism has suffered at the hands of Turkish political elites during the legal and political discussions that preceded the referendum.

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Populism and the Turkish Constitutional Court: the Game Broker, the Populist and the Popular

Populist strategies have for some time been an integral part of Turkish political life employed dominantly by the right wing political parties.1)For populism as a discursive strategy in Turkey see Zafer Toprak, “Populism ve Türkiye’deki Boyutları”, Tarih ve Demokrasi (Istanbul: Cem Yayınevi, 1992), pp. 41-62; Reşat Kasaba, “Populism and Democracy in Turkey, 1946-1961”, Rules and […]

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Türkei-Referendum vor dem EGMR: Warum der Gang nach Straßburg diesmal wohl nicht helfen wird

Nachdem die türkische Wahlkommission den Antrag einiger Oppositionsparteien auf Annullierung des Verfassungsreferendums vom 16. April verworfen hat, erwägt die oppositionelle CHP Medienberichten zufolge den Gang nach Straßburg. Dem halten türkische Spitzenpolitiker entgegen, der EGMR sei hierfür nicht zuständig. Was ist hiervon zu halten?

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