A war of words emerged between the members of Turkey's top judicial body as the chairman of the constitutional court came under the spotlight when a number of court members challenged his view on a legal dispute regarding the country’s electoral districts.
Hasim Kilic, the chairman of the constitutional court,
The debate started when YSK gave the nod to local elections in some 900 districts which were closed by a legislation that overhauled the structure of the country’s electoral districts. The
Late on Wednesday Kilic said, in a reaction to the YSK decision, that those who do not comply with the court's rulings would breach the constitution.
The vice-president of the court, Osman Paksut, however, said he was not aware of the statement and surprised by it.
"Mr. Chairman accused the YSK of breaching the constitution. This is harsh. I don't agree with that. YSK is the authoritative body on the elections. I don't see it is correct to be involved in debates over and over again," Paksut said in a response to Kilic's statement.
Kilic responded to Paksut saying that the statement was made with the support of six of the 11 members of the court. "Yesterday's statement was made in line with the demands and approval of the six members. I wasn't alone," Kilic told reporters on Thursday.
Kilic also said it is normal that Paksut is not aware of the statement because he opposed the decision.
Eight members of the court, including three alternative members, joined the debate by issuing a statement on Thursday. They said Kilic's remarks do not reflect the top judicial body's views.
"According to the 149th Article of the constitution, the
The statement is a sign that the court members were not aware of Kilic’s remarks and that the text was therefore issued without the required procedure.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
In March, the Turkish parliament approved a bill that would close 862 municipalities which had populations of less than 2,000 residents. The opposition protested the bill, saying it was an attempt of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to win elections in districts it failed to win seats in past elections.
In December, the Kovanlik municipality, one of the 740 closed, filed a case in the Council of State. The court had said the legal identity of municipalities could continue despite their closure.
On Tuesday YSK decided closed municipalities could participate in local elections to be held March 2009 on the basis of the Council of State's ruling on the issue.
On Wednesday, the Turkish prime minister slammed YSK's decision. "This decision was made by parliament, the legislative body. As you know this decision was challenged in the