Call from acedemics to the institutions that have the duty to implement the Constitution
THE PRESIDENT IS CASTING HIS SHADOW ON THE ELECTIONS
Will the election on June 7, 2015 be free, fair and compatible with the democratic standards?
Whereas the President has to be impartial according to the Constitution, the President’s having started an election campaign against the opposition parties in the past few weeks, and the government’s failure in taking effective measures against the violent actions that have targeted the electoral security, have led the public opinion to take a negative stance on this question.
We observe: that the actions and behavior of the President – cited below – violate the principles defining free and fair elections; that the government is not acting in accordance with its responsibility in ensuring the security of the election.
And we are concerned that these violations and irresponsibility would taint and harm the pluralist, pro-rights democracy that we have been trying to implant in this land for over a hundred years.
- The content of the speeches: The speeches delivered by the President during the opening ceremonies of various plants across the country, can only be interpreted as ‘election campaigning’ in terms of their content and these potentially have an impact on the outcome of the election. In any event, the President’s intention is precisely to make such an impact on the outcome.
- The target of the criticisms voiced by the President: As stated by the written justifications of the two objecting members of the Supreme Electoral Council, the President “is using a discourse that is directly targeting and is critical of certain political parties and persons.” Indeed, the President’s criticisms are only directed against the opposition parties.
- The issue is not freedom of speech but impartiality: As much as it is clear that the President is free to conduct opening ceremonies, address the people and exercise his freedom of speech, that he must be impartial during these meetings is equally clear and noncontroversial.
- The claim to be “on the side of the Nation”: “The President who has declared that “I have already stated that I will not be impartial, that I will be a different kind of President,” has started his duty by taking the oath “While the Great Turkish Nation and history witnesses, I swear on my integrity and honor that I will work, with my best effort, to implement with impartiality the duty I have undertaken” in accordance with the Art 103 of the Constitution. Impartiality is not only the principle of the law, but is also bound to the criterion of honor.
- Seeking to make an impact on the election outcomes: The President’s launching an election campaign to criticize the opposition parties goes far beyond the overreach of constitutional bounds, it casts a shadow on the election.
- Asking for votes to introduce the Presidential System: The President asks for votes by saying “Give me 400 MPs for the Presidential System”, but he claims that he is not citing any specific party. Yet, no political party other than the AKP includes the promise and the target of the Presidential System in their official election declarations.
- Using public resources: To top it all, the President is conducting the election campaign he is conducting on behalf of his former party and against the opposition parties by making extensive use of public resources and personnel. This situation demarcates not only the violation of the oath of impartiality, but also the violation of lawful and ethical principles.
- International obligations: The President’s propaganda efforts that taint the fair competition between parties and candidates are clearly in violation of the ECHR (protocol 1, Art 3) that cites minimal conditions for “free elections,” and all the other international conventions that Turkey is a contracting party, and the rules of the international organizations that Turkey is a member to.
- Constitution’s binding power and its normative superiority: The constitutional norms are the basic principles of law that bind all the organs of the state. The President is constantly violating this principle.
- Instrumentalizing religion for political purposes: According to the Constitution, “No one shall be allowed to exploit or abuse religion or religious feelings, or things held sacred by religion, in any manner whatsoever, for the purpose of personal or political influence, or for even partially basing the fundamental, social, economic, political, and legal order of the state on religious tenets.” (Art 24/last part). Yet the President seems to have put criticism of the opposition parties on religious issues, such as Sunni-Alevi differentiation and imam-hatip schools, to the center of his propaganda efforts.
- The right to elect/to be elected and electoral security: Free ballot is the basic principle of free elections (Const Art 67). The President’s unceasing speeches on the election are causing an impact that violates this principle. The live broadcasting of these propaganda speeches at various TV channels is an obstacle against the free formation of public’s will in this election.
- From the authority to ensure to tutelage: The President “shall ensure the implementation of the Constitution, and the regular and harmonious functioning of the organs of state.” (const Art 104) Leaving aside the authority to ensure harmony, the organs of the state have been delegated to create disharmony. In this regard, the authority to ensure is increasingly reverting into tutelage.
- Separation of powers and independence of the judiciary: According to the Constitution, “No organ, authority, office or individual may give orders or instructions to courts or judges relating to the exercise of judicial power, send them circulars, or make recommendations or suggestions.” (Art 138) The President is openly giving orders to the judiciary.
- Financial audit: The Audit Court is “charged with auditing, on behalf of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, all accounts related to revenues, expenditures and properties of the government departments financed by general and subsidiary budgets, with taking final decisions on the acts and accounts of the responsible officials, and with exercising the functions required of it by law in matters of inquiry, auditing and judgment.” (Art 160) The President is using his secret/discretionary fund, and thereby spending the money of the people for the sake of establishing the order he desires.
We observe that the election campaign conducted by the President is:
-due to violating people’s right to be informed in equal conditions and the right to will-formation, against human rights,
-due to violating free and fair election principles, against democracy,
-due to abuse of religion and religious feelings, against secularism,
-due to first the existence of secret/discretionary Presidential fund, and the expenditures that are free from financial auditing and transparency, against the rule of law.
All these principles, that are cited by the Constitution among the “features of the Republic” (art 2), and upheld by all the contemporary democracies of our day, are under threat.
We are calling on:
-Starting with AK Party, all political parties that are taking part in the election to take a common stance on the President’s staying out of the election campaign,
-The media, not to broadcast the election speeches of the President,
-Turkey’s High Council of Radio and Television (RTÜK), the Supreme Electoral Council and the Constitutional Court, and all the responsible and authorized constitutional institutions, to duty for addressing this injustice,
-The government, not to allocate public resources to the President’s election campaign, and to take effective measures to ensure with full impartiality the electoral security.
81 ACADEMICS FROM 22 UNIVERSITIES IN TURKEY
- 1. Nermin ABADAN-UNAT (Boğaziçi University)
- Prof. İbrahim Ö. KABOĞLU (Marmara University)
- Prof. Oktay UYGUN (Yeditepe University)
- Prof. Bertil Emrah ODER (Koç University)
- Prof. Sultan ÜZELTÜRK (Yeditepe University)
- Prof. Ersin KALAYCIOĞLU (Sabancı University)
- Prof. Fazıl SAĞLAM (Near East University, Retired Memeber of the Constitutional Court )
- Prof. Sevtap YOKUŞ (Kemerburgaz University)
- Assoc. Prof. Ayşen CANDAŞ (Boğaziçi University)
- Prof. Meltem Dikmen CANİKLİOĞLU ( İzmir Economy University)
- Prof. Korkut KANADOĞLU (Özyeğin University)
- Prof. Selin ESEN (Ankara University)
- Prof. Rona SEROZAN (İstanbul Bilgi University)
- Prof. Mustafa ERDOĞAN (İstanbul Commerce University)
- Prof. Eser KARAKAŞ (İstanbul University)
- Prof. Erol KATIRCIOĞLU (Marmara University)
- Prof. İştar GÖZAYDIN (Doğuş University)
- Prof. Cevdet ATAY (Uludağ University, (R.)
- Prof. Korkut BORATAV (Ankara University (R.)
- Prof. Hayri KOZANOĞLU (Kemerburgaz Üniversitesi)
- Prof. Baskın ORAN (Ankara University, R.)
- Prof. Büşra ERSANLI (Marmara University)
- Assoc. Prof. Cengiz AKTAR (Sabancı University)
- Prof. Günay Göksu ÖZDOĞAN (Marmara University)
- Prof. Ali Ülkü AZRAK (İstanbul University, R.)
- Prof. Gencer ÖZCAN (İstanbul Bilgi University)
- Prof. Nihal İNCİOĞLU (İstanbul Bilgi University)
- Prof. Tahsin YEŞİLDERE (İstanbul University)
- Prof. Yeşim M. Atamer, (Istanbul Bilgi University)
- Prof. Sema ERDER (Marmara University, R.)
- Prof. Murat Cemal YALÇINTAN (Mimar Sinan University)
- Prof. Melda TUNÇAY (Marmara University, E.)
- Prof. Uğur ERSOY (Boğaziçi University)
- Prof. Taner ÖZBENLİ (Ondokuz Mayıs University)
- Prof. Fatma GÖK (Boğaziçi University)
- Prof. Selçuk ESENBEL (Boğaziçi University)
- Prof. Ersan DEMİRALP (Boğaziçi University)
- Prof. Güngör EVREN (Okan University)
- Prof. Ayla Z. GÜRSOY (Marmara University, R.)
- Prof. Nurgün ERDİN (İstanbul University, R.)
- Prof. Kadir ERDİN (İstanbul University, E.)
- Prof. Bülent SANKUR (Boğaziçi University)
- Prof. Yeşim ARAT (Boğaziçi University)
- Prof. Alpar SEVGEN (Boğaziçi University, R.)
- Prof. Cevza SEVGEN (Boğaziçi University)
- Prof. Reşit CANBEYLİ (Boğaziçi University, R.)
- Assoc. Prof. Başak ÇALI (Koç University)
- Assoc. Prof. Pınar UYAN (İstanbul Bilgi University)
- Asst. Prof. Mehmet KARLI (Galatasaray University)
- Prof. Mehmet Zaman SAÇLIOĞLU (İstanbul Commerce University)
- Assoc. Prof. Ahmet ERSOY (Boğaziçi University)
- Assoc. Prof. Koray ÇALIŞKAN (Boğaziçi University)
- Assoc. Prof. T. Selim ESKİİZMİRLİLER ( Paris Diderot and Descartes Universities)
- Asst. Prof. Sezgi DURGUN (Marmara University)
- Asst. Prof. Esra MUNGAN (Boğaziçi University)
- Asst. Prof. Başak UÇANOK TAN (İstanbul Bilgi University)
- Dr. Cengiz ARIN (Yıldız Teknik University, R.)
- Prof. Fahrettin YAĞCI (Boğaziçi University)
- Prof. Nuran YAZICIOĞLU (İstanbul University)
- Prof. Gürel TÜZÜN (Orta Doğu Teknik University, R.)
- Inst. Ayşe Nur SANKUR (Boğaziçi University)
- Prof. Yüksel TAŞKIN (Marmara University)
- Prof. İlter TURAN (İstanbul Bilgi University, R.)
- Prof. Osman DOĞRU (Marmara University)
- Prof. Ayhan KAYA (İstanbul Bilgi University)
- Assoc. Prof. Taner AYANOĞLU (İstanbul Bilgi University)
- Asst. Prof. Bertan TOKUZLU (İstanbul Bilgi University)
- Inst. Emek TORAMAN ÇOLGAR (İstanbul Bilgi University)
- Prof. Öget ÖKTEM TANÖR, ( İstanbul University, R.)
- Prof. Dr. Ersin YURTSEVER (Koç University)
- Asst. Prof. Cüneyt SÜZEL (İstanbul Bilgi University)
- Prof. Turgut TARHANLI (İstanbul Bilgi University)
- Asst. Prof. Kerem ALTIPARMAK (Ankara University)
- Assoc. Prof. Ozan ERÖZDEN (Yıldız Technical University)
- Assoc. Prof. Ece GÖZTEPE (Bilkent University)
- Asst. Prof. Gökçe ÇATALOLUK (İstanbul Bilgi University)
- Prof. Şevket PAMUK ( Boğaziçi University)
- Prof. Metin GÜNDAY (Atılım University)
- Prof. Fatmagül BERKTAY (İstanbul University)
- Prof. Hüseyin ÖZEL (Hacettepe University)
- Prof. Fikret Şenses (Middle East Technical University, R.)
- Prof. Yakup Kepenek (Middle East Technical University, R.)