Law and Politics in Turkey: What Metin Feyzioglu’s Downfall Means For Judiciary?

The president of Turkey’s Bar Association aligned himself with the oppressive politics of the post-coup era. None of his political patrons were able to save him from his doom.

Abdullah Ayasun

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In 2014, Metin Feyzioglu, then-President of the Union of Turkey’s Bar Associations (TBB), was catapulted to national fame when he rattled off one incriminating charge after another against then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his corrupt government “at a ceremony marking the Council of State’s 146th anniversary.” His televised tantrums from the podium unsettled the visiting prime minister who was among the audience. The irritated Erdogan then literally stirred President Abdullah Gul and Chief of Staff Gen. Necdet Ozel into leaving the ceremony before expressing his disapproval of the way Feyzioglu spoke (no less than an hour in breaking with the protocol) and dismissing his charges as baseless.

That public revolt against Erdogan made Feyzioglu a man to be reckoned with among Kemalist/nationalist opposition. But it did not take long for a radical shift in his political standing. In less than a month after the coup in summer 2016, he politically re-aligned himself with Erdogan, who ascended to the presidency after Gul’s departure two years earlier, by shedding his critical past stance. The lawyer’s rise and fall in Turkey’s tangled web of legal and political affairs came to a dramatic end on Sunday when he lost his bid for re-election for one of the most influential posts in the country’s judicial hierarchy. Few people shed tears for his downfall, while many visibly demonstrated their joy for Feyzioglu’s fall from grace.

According to the non-official results of the election that would dramatically reshape the politics and practicalities of defense in the legal landscape, Erinc Sagkan won the votes of 181 delegates in an upset victory that involved 348 delegates in total.

The elections unmistakably evoked the memories of the municipal polls in 2019. President Erdogan’s handpicked candidate Binali Yildirim, the last serving prime minister of Turkey’s governmental system, suffered a stinging defeat against main opposition…

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Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun