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The following article appeared in Fikret Bila’s column in the daily Milliyet on 28 April 2010. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

The CHP annulment application is ready

Fikret Bila

There remains no possibility of achieving Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin’s compromise formula which was premised on the condition “if the CHP does not apply to the Constitutional Court.”

CHP leader Deniz Baykal, saying, “the statement ‘if they do not apply to the Constitutional Court’ does not become the Minister of Justice,” announced that there will be no change in his party’s position.

The CHP will file suit for annulment with the Constitutional Court on the day on which the constitutional amendments are promulgated in the Official Gazette.

Grounds for the breach

The CHP has virtually completed the legal preparations for its annulment application. The CHP considers the constitutional amendment package to be in breach of the Constitution with particular reference to the disputed three articles.

The party’s legal experts have drawn up the grounds for the annulment application. They will argue that the articles of the amendment package concerning the closure of political parties, the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors breach the principle of a law-based state in article 2 of the Constitution. The CHP will allege that the amendments in question breach the principle of the separation of powers underpinning democratic law-based states, and thus the “law-based state” mentioned in article 2. Moreover, in this context, the thesis will be advanced that they are in breach of the principles of the supremacy of the law and the reliability and consistency of the law.

The CHP will also, based on its thesis that these amendments indirectly amend article 2 and void it of substance, point to a breach of the formal requirement entailed by the provision that its amendment may not even be proposed. It will in this manner be argued that it is possible for the court to examine substance through considering issues of form.

The CHP will, at the same time as filing for annulment, apply for suspension of application.

The signatures of 110 deputies are needed to file for annulment with the Constitutional Court

The number of CHP deputies is 97. Will the CHP experience a 110 signature problem? CHP Deputy Group Chair Hakkı Suha Okay restricted himself to saying, “We have no such problem” in response to this question of mine, without going into detail. The CHP does not appear to be challenged in finding 110 signatures.

The ex-DSP contingent

The word in parliament is that, of the thirteen deputies who entered the Turkish Grand National Assembly on the CHP ticket, eleven will side with the CHP. Calculations reveal that, in voting that has been conducted up until now, six DSP deputies along with five of the ex-DSP independent deputies who currently number seven have expressed similar preferences to the CHP. Eleven deputies are deemed certain to maintain this stance and to sign the CHP’s annulment application.

However, the prevailing view is that Recai Birgül, deceased Bülent Ecevit’s director of protection, and doctor Mücahit Pehlivan will not follow the other eleven deputies. According to DSP circles, Birgül and Pehlivan chart a different course from the other current and former DSP deputies.

On the other hand, it is thought likely that independent deputies Mesut Yılmaz and Kamer Genç will append their signatures to the CHP’s annulment application and that Erdoğan Yetenç, who has left the CHP and remained independent, will lend his support. These calculations show that the CHP will have no trouble in finding 110 signatures.

As things stand, the constitutional amendments will be challenged in the Constitutional Court prior to a referendum.

Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton