Barış Terkoğlu

How legal decisions shape political landscape in Turkey

04 Nisan 2024 Perşembe

How strange… Law, which should act as a shield for the powerless, becomes a glove in the hand of the thief, a knife in the hand of the murderer.

Understanding laws is hard but understanding their intentions is easy. Let's explain...

HDP's former MP Abdullah Zeydan was arrested on November 4, 2016, and was released on January 6, 2022. That is, he spent a total of 5 years, 2 months, and 2 days in prison. So, what happened during this period? The Diyarbakir 5th High Criminal Court sentenced Zeydan to 5 years for "aiding an organization" and 3 years, one month, and 15 days for "making propaganda for an organization," totaling 8 years, one month, and 15 days in prison. The Supreme Court confirmed the propaganda sentence on May 26, 2021, but overturned the aid sentence. Thus, Zeydan's final sentence became 3 years, one month, and 15 days. Claiming, "I had already served my sentence by December 2019, and additionally, over three and a half years have passed," Zeydan applied to the court he was tried in on March 27, 2023. He requested the restoration of his eligibility to be elected. The court granted this right on April 4, 2023, saying "you are right." There was no objection. The decision became final. Zeydan became a candidate with this final court decision. The Supreme Election Council (YSK) approved his candidacy. His name was printed on the ballot.

The prosecution did not object to these developments for a year. Then, two days before the election, on Friday, something happened. The Ministry of Justice wrote to the prosecution, and the prosecution wrote to the court, requesting to revise its decision from a year ago. They wanted the court to consider not the year 2019, when Zeydan completed his sentence, but the year 2022, as per the Supreme Court's decision, thus disqualifying Zeydan from candidacy until 2025. The court overturned its own decision from a year ago. The people of Van, voting for Zeydan, were unaware of these developments. The decision was notified after the election. The Election Board told Zeydan, "you won the election, but you cannot become the president." It was going to give the certificate of election to the AKP candidate when... the YSK said "stop" to this course of events last night.

There's a reality that someone used the court to set a trap for the voters.

What if Zeydan was from AKP or MHP instead of the DEM Party? Let me answer that.


In Kozan district of Adana, the candidate of the People's Alliance was MHP's Mustafa Atlı. The election, as expected, was between MHP and CHP. MHP received 28% while CHP stayed at 25%.

The result was not so ordinary. Don't mind the opposition saying "we are at every ballot box." There was no representative of the opposition in at least 150 of the 338 ballot boxes in Kozan. The results from these rural ballot boxes were clearly inconsistent. Atlı won the election with these votes.

After the election, CHP objected to 296 ballot boxes, including these. But that's not our topic.

Until recently, Mustafa Atlı worked at Halkbank, a state bank, not as an ordinary staff member but as a regional director.

You might say, so what...

There are some laws for elections to be just elections. Civil servants who use the state's power, members of the judiciary, soldiers, etc., must resign before the process begins. The reason is simple: to ensure that the state remains impartial between parties and candidates do not use their state power to get elected.

The Election Law states under "Those who must resign to be candidates": "Judges and prosecutors, members of high judicial bodies, faculty members at higher education institutions, members of YÖK and RTÜK, civil servants of public institutions and organizations, and other public officials who do not have worker status due to their services, mayors who wish to be candidates, officers, non-commissioned officers, chairmen and members of the provincial and district administrations of political parties, members of the municipal council, provincial general assembly members, professional organizations with public institution status, and unions, management and audit boards of public banks, their upper associations, and their joint ventures or partnerships..."

Based on this law, YSK announced a resignation deadline for those entering the election by December 1. However, Mustafa Atlı did not resign until January 31. He continued to work at Halkbank.



I'm watching Mustafa Atlı's propaganda videos. He talks to the public. He explains how he arranged 3 million credits for Kozan's tradespeople within half an hour on the same day when there was no credit limit left for tradespeople at the bank. In other words, he uses his office for political propaganda.

After the election, CHP objected, "he did not resign from his civil service on time, his candidacy is invalid, do not give him the certificate of election."

Mustafa Atlı first said, "this law does not apply to me, I am not a member of the management board, I am a regional coordinator." But when the document proving he was indeed a civil servant emerged, he had no way out.

You might ask, what did the Election Board decide then?

The decision is right in front of me. In a decision taken by a vote of 5 against 2, it states:

"Regarding the objection to the resignation situation of Mustafa Atlı, candidate for MHP Mayor of Kozan, since the candidacy process was not objected to and became final without any objections, and there is no issue related to eligibility for election, the objection is dismissed..."

In other words, the Election Board said, "you might be right, but you should have objected before the candidacy was finalized, I cannot interfere after being elected." Moreover, we understood that YSK ignored this discrepancy, which could have been easily noticed by anyone without objection, when the candidate was from MHP.

Thus, on one side, boards are bending the law, finding a way at the last minute, changing a decision that became final a year ago to block someone, and on the other side, they turn a blind eye to irregularities. The issue is not about DEM or MHP's view. The issue is about the normalization of injustice, the law being trampled by politics, the disappearance of the norm, and the spread of the abnormal. No doubt, thanks to reactions, yesterday, YSK stopped the horse in Van at the last minute.

Remember, injustice first crosses the boundary that everyone finds ordinary. If you get used to it, you may find it knocking on your door...

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