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Turkey’s top judicial body investigates judge who challenged Erdoğan’s candidacy

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Turkey’s Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) has launched an investigation into a judge who filed an appeal against the nomination of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a presidential candidate on the grounds that it was unconstitutional, the pro-government Sabah daily reported on Wednesday.

In the run-up to last month’s presidential election, five opposition parties and members of the legal community filed petitions with the Supreme Election Board (YSK) against Erdoğan’s candidacy for what they said would be his third term in office.

Questions arose about whether Erdoğan could run for a third term due to a change in the system of governance in 2017, with some claiming he was not legally eligible because he had already served two terms and could not run for a third.

Erdoğan was first elected president for a five-year renewable term in 2014 by a direct vote under a parliamentary system. Turkey switched to the presidential system of governance with a referendum in 2017 and held snap presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018, when Erdoğan was elected president again. Under the presidential system, a person can be elected president for a five-year renewable term if the election is held as scheduled.

Judge Ahmet Çakmak, who was among those challenging Erdoğan’s nomination with the YSK, is now being investigated by the HSK, Sabah said.

On March 30, the YSK announced that it had rejected all applications challenging Erdoğan’s nomination and there was no obstacle in the way of his candidacy.

Erdoğan was elected president again in a runoff election held on May 28.

In his petition to the YSK filed on March 28, Çakmak said everyone who has the right to vote can file objections to the nomination of presidential candidates and that he was filing the petition as an ordinary citizen.

Sabah, which is accused of acting like a news outlet for Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), announced the news with the headline “Investigation launched into reckless judge.”

Erdoğan is accused of establishing one-man rule in the country, particularly after a coup attempt in 2016, following which he launched a massive crackdown on non-loyalist citizens and the country’s subsequent transition to the presidential system of governance, which granted him vast powers.

Many say there is no longer a separation of powers in the country and that members of the judiciary are under the absolute control of the government and cannot make judgments based on law.

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