How equal will the party chair and president be in Turkey's new system?

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke at the group meeting of Justice and Development Party (AKP) on May 30. It was his first address to the meeting as both president and chair of the AK Party. 

In the previous constitution, the president had to be a "non-partisan and impartial" personality. Because he or she was supposed to represent the unity of the state and the nation, "insulting the president" was a criminal offense. 

Since the referendum in April, the situation has changed. The president is now affiliated with a political party and is not impartial. In this respect he is no different from other political party leaders or politicians. 

Related to this is a recent decision by the Constitutional Court about an insult case against journalist Önder Balıkçı, which was in line with the practices of European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ruling declared that criticism of politicians, however harsh the content, cannot be punished as it falls into the category of freedom of expression. 

Jurists should contemplate this: Since the president is now the chair of a party, will he or won't he be subject to a different protective regime than other politicians? 

All politicians are "equal" against criticisms. But will a party-member president be "more equal"? 

Human rights record 

Parliament's Human Rights Commission convened the other day after an eight-month break. However, two members of the commission, Ayhan Bilgen and Burcu Çelik Özkan from the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), are currently in jail.   

Elsewhere, roads leading to the Human Rights Monument in Ankara, the site where educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça started their hunger strike, have been...

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