The Public Personnel Selection Examination (KPSS): A Recent and Familiar Example of Judicial Evasion of Nepotism

In response to the massive public outcry caused by allegations that emerged on August 1, 2022, that more than 30 questions and answers from the Public Personnel Selection Examination (KPSS) organized by the Student Selection and Placement Center (ÖSYM) had been leaked on Sunday, July 31, the president ordered the State Supervisory Board (DDK) to investigate. DDK officials also went to ÖSYM and the publisher of the test books and filed a criminal complaint yesterday, August 2, two days after the shady exam. Upon the filing of the criminal complaint, the public prosecutor’s office started an investigation.

Is nepotism really a problem?

Nepotism in all its forms has been everywhere for years, and now it has entered supposedly fully impartial, scientific, computer-controlled systems that no one can influence. It is not inaccurate to say that all those who passed the exam are shady and all those who did not pass have been wronged.

Someone who does not know what I am about to tell you would think that this suspected crime in the KPSS exam has been investigated at lightning speed in 2022. But the truth is not like that at all! A small political caste which is almost at the throat of the nation, and the state apparatus at their behest, are staging a legal theater. The risk of the incumbent government losing a significant proportion of its votes in the upcoming 2023 elections is forcing the DDK and ÖSYM, and the prosecutors’ offices under the control of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK)—all of them institutions under the president’s control—to take immediate action. The officials of these institutions, who are obviously wary of the president, are also keen to project an image of having acted quickly, but are neglecting the procedures and conditions regarding the investigation of crimes of public officials under Law No. 4483.

It is not in politicians’ interest to resolve this

If Mr. President wants to quickly and effectively tackle these and similar incidents involving politicians and public officials, he is not doing the right and required thing. It is clear what he needs to do if he really and fundamentally wants to solve these issues. He can convene the parliament today, repeal Law No. 4483 and the conditions for permission to investigate, and enable prosecutors and judges to investigate such crimes immediately and freely—not in a single case but in all cases.

As a veteran legal politician I spoke to recently said, these problems will never be solved radically; the real culprits will never be put before the judiciary, and we will see only the kind of outbursts that will at best appease the public, as was the case with the 2022 KPSS exam. The outdated understanding that excludes public officials who commit crimes from the reach of the judiciary serves the immoral and political interests of a small group of people. They want to be able to give unlawful orders to civil servants, to protect those who commit crimes in the course of their duties, and to drag those who do their jobs properly through the courts. Even if their immoral interests are very small, they do not care much that the schemes they have set up and sold to the nation have entered all of the vital organs of our beautiful country like a malignant tumor and blocked the arteries and veins.

Politicians both create and perpetuate these crimes 

The president, whom his supporters consider superior to Atatürk and compare to Sultan Abdülhamit Han, cannot, despite all the power he has as the head of the executive and of the majority party in the parliament, remove the anachronistic requirement for permission to investigate. This is because he does not want all public officials, from the top to the bottom, to be accountable first and foremost to the law and the judiciary rather than to him. He does not want to give up his irresponsibility and become accountable first and foremost to the judiciary, like for example the Israeli prime minister. He would not want to be in such a situation, even if he himself had selected and appointed all of the judges to whom he would have to answer.

As such, TCDD (Turkish State Railways) executives and responsible ministers, who should have been prosecuted for negligence and breaches of duty in Çorlu after the Pamukova and Sincan train accidents, are not brought to justice. As the Constitutional Court found in its judgments on the Soma mine explosion and the Pamukova train disaster, public officials and ministers who should be prosecuted are not brought to justice and are released from responsibility after a period of time by the statute of limitations.

As such, tens of thousands of civil servants cannot go beyond what is said by the politicians, who have the final say and the authority to give orders and instructions, and do nothing better than to read their lips, starting with the governors in the districts and the provinces and ending with the president at the top.

Citizens’ yellow or red card

Therefore, public citizens cannot distinguish between those who perform their duties as they should and those who hold positions because they act in line with the wishes of politicians. They cannot attack members of the judiciary at the court gates if that have not provided good service, because they will be arrested immediately, They cannot attack security guards who unjustly mistreat them with batons, because they have guns in their belts. Instead they take it out on innocent health workers in hospital emergency rooms because they cannot get the service they want, or on women who have no defense in their homes and on the streets.

And they take it out on politicians from election to election, without taking any risk, by not going to the sealed ballot box at all, or voting for the opposition when they do.

It was the possibility of getting a yellow card in 2023 that forced the president to immediately mobilize DDK and ÖSYM after the KPSS incident, and to immediately dismiss the president of ÖSYM, who perhaps had no responsibility at all.

If Mr. President wants to win the 2023 elections, he should immediately repeal Law No. 4483 and make investigation permits a thing of the past; establish a High Court of Justice to try public officials; transform the HSK into a fully independent, transparent and accountable High Council of Justice with the powers given to the Ministry of Justice; and make the law superior to everyone, including himself, in every field in our beautiful country.

In this regard, I am proud to share here again that the Better Justice Association, which I chair, has developed a complete solution proposal and drafts and presented them to the public.



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