Turkey’s Constitutional Court occupies a central and controversial place in Turkish politics and in Turkey’s legal system. Its role and functions have attracted different reactions and responses, both within Turkey and beyond. While some –especially those in favor of secularism (laikler)—praise the court for its service as a watchdog overseeing the regime, some others – both among conservatives and liberals—harshly criticize its actions and even question why such an institution exists. Critics mostly make reference to the court’s attempts to shape the political sphere, arguing that this is a role that should be played by political parties alone.
Constitutional Court: Its Limits to Shape Turkish Politics
This paper argues that the Turkish Constitutional Court acts within a set of limitations which significantly affect its final judgments. The court’s major consideration and motivation in its deliberations over political cases has primarily been to guard the regime and order, as defined and outlined by a fairly pro-state interpretation. To study the Court’s involvement in political cases, this study examines two types of cases, which will help identify the parameters restricting the Court’s ability to proceed with its expected role. In party closure cases, the Court has considered the probable threat posed by the political party under review; accordingly, its rulings have mostly been in line with the prosecutor’s indictment. The same also applies to cases concerning the headscarf ban, a sensitive issue that could be seen as a fault line in Turkey’s social and political life.
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