issues. In act, the decision o the Constitutional Courtconcerning the AKP in 2008 delivered an indelible blow tothe secular credentials o the AKP. It is also a matter o actthat the AKP has been struggling to cast doubt over thedemocratic credentials o its main opponents, the Repub-lican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist MovementParty (MHP). In the meantime, on several occasions, theopposition parties have declared that they do not trust theAKP and its leadership. Tereore, it seems as i urkey isexperiencing a legitimacy crisis whereby the secular creden-tials o the AKP are called into question by the secularopposition on the one hand, while the conservatives, theAKP elite included, question the commitment o the CHPand the MHP to civilian supremacy over the military command on the other. A kulturkamp that reinorces thecrisis o legitimacy, which in turn undermines trust betweenthe major actors in urkish politics, now denes the polit-ical atmosphere in urkey.
Expanded Courts and an Uncertain Presidency
By March 2010, the AKP had moved toward an overhaul o several articles o the 1982 Constitution.
Tis was not therst time that the AKP has attempted to amend it. Te lastmajor overhaul o the constitution was in 2004, as part o EU-motivated political reorms, or which the oppositionpolitical parties in the urkish Parliament had also extendedtheir support. However, the current constitutional amend-ments are opposed by all o the parliamentary oppositionparties and a large swath o nongovernmental organizations(NGOs). Te rest o the country seems to be split down themiddle about what the reerendum stands or.Te timing o the move to amend the constitution seemedto coincide with rumors about a second indictment to banthe AKP on charges o violation o Article 2 o the consti-tution concerning secularism. Te AKP appears to havemoved swily to deny party closures through proposedconstitutional amendments. Te AKP has also complained
Turkey experienced its last referendum on constitutional amendments on October 21,2007. That referendum focused on the status of the president, and the constitutionalamendments were regarding the tug of war between the AKP and its opponents over theright of the AKP to name its own candidate freely for the presidency and get him electedin the TBMM. On two earlier occasions the party leaders had selected themselves as can-
didates and were successfully elected as presidents. There was nothing of signicance
that pertained to democratization per se in the 2007 referendum. However, the overallimpact of that referendum, which received the approval of 70 percent of the electorate,
will have a major and dire inuence on democracy in Turkey for many years to come.
about the “tutelage o the High Courts,” and has oendeclared complete distrust o them in public. Te move tochange the composition o the Constitutional Court and theSupreme Board o Prosecutors and Judges (HSYK)
seemsto kill two birds with one stone. I more conservative judgescould be elected to serve on both the Constitutional Courtand HSYK, the higher courts would become more avorably disposed toward the AKP. At the same time, there wouldnot be enough votes to close down the party i a ban were tobe motioned by the chie prosecutor at the ConstitutionalCourt.Te amended article concerning the Constitutional Courtincreases the number o judges serving on the benchrom 11 to 17, while the president will have some role inappointing 14 out o 17 judges, each or a period o 12 yearson the bench. However, the constitutional status o the pres-ident, which was altered by the reerendum o October 21,2007, is still unclear. It would have been much more logicalto dene the new status o the president rst and thenentrust him with new responsibilities, i that new status sorequired or permitted. I the new status o the presidentwere to be just symbolic, as in Iceland or Singapore, would
The HSYK is an administrative organ that handles the hiring, appointment, promotion,
and ring of all prosecutors and judges. It had been autonomous from the executivebranch of the government prior to the 1982 Constitution, but came under the inuence
of the Ministry of Justice since that constitution came into effect. Ironically, the EU haddemanded that the minister of justice and his undersecretary be taken off that board to render it autonomous from executive rule. The current amendment would probablyenhance the representational credentials of the HSYK, though the status of the ministerand the undersecretary in that council would hardly be altered.
that reinforces the crisis of legitimacy, which in turn undermines trust between the major actors in Turkish
politics, now denes the political
atmosphere in Turkey.