Stakes are high as Turkey awaits vote on new member of Constitutional Court

The heads of Turkey’s bar associations on Saturday voted to determine the three nominees to replace a member of the Constitutional Court set to retire at the end of the month, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported.

One of the three candidates will be elected as a member of the Constitutional Court in a two-round vote to be held at the Grand National Assembly, DW said, in an election whose outcome will critically alter balances at Turkey’s top court, which currently maintains a majority of members with ties to the ruling alliance.

Kenan Yaşar, Zülal Erdoğan Bilal and Talat Göğebakan received 18, 13 and 11 votes, respectively, in Saturday’s elections, which saw participation from 82 bar association heads, DW said. 

One of the three will replace Celal Mümtaz Akıncı, an opposition member of Turkey’s top court elected by parliament in 2010, who is retiring on January 31 due to age limit.

Turkey’s 15-member Constitutional Court currently has nine members with links to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance, while six members are linked to the opposition.

Turkey’s ruling alliance, which maintains an electoral quorum in parliament, is almost sure to cast their vote in favour of Yaşar, the chairman of the Bar Association of Çorum province in central Turkey, DW said, citing his previous candidacy as AKP lawmaker.

Yaşar’s election will effectively tip the balance of the top court further in favour of the ruling alliance, with a ratio of 10 pro-government to five opposition members, DW’s Alican Uludağ wrote.

“The closure case against the HDP could be immediately affected by this picture,’’ Uludağ wrote, in reference to the ongoing case against the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) over terror charges. 

“A two-thirds majority vote is necessary for closure ruling. In other words, the vote of 10 members will be sufficient (for the move),’’ he wrote.

The case against the HDP is the culmination of a years-long crackdown on the third largest party in Turkish parliament, in which thousands of its members have been tried on mainly terrorism-related charges.

The party denies links to terrorism, calling the case against it a "political operation."

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