Journal of Civil Law Studies


In recent years, the strengthening in Turkish constitutional culture of the rule of law and pluralism appeared as a further breach of the Kemalist ideology of “sacralization” of the State. Nevertheless, the principle of statehood, characterizing the Republic of Turkey since its creation in 1923 and now affirmed in art. 1 of the Constitution still influences Turkish institutions. With regard to judicial system, while Euro-driven reforms and the application of the conditionality principle led to its modernization, the Constitution sketches an organization based on both institutional dependence and corporatism. These features are reflected also in judicial education, notwithstanding the establishment of a judicial academy in 2003 and the reform of training catalogues.

Referring to legal and political science literature, as well as to documents and reports of the Council of Europe and of the European Union, this paper examines through the lens of training policies the evolution of Turkish judicial culture in relation to independence and pluralism, sketching a first hypothesis on the effectiveness of judicial training reforms in the perspective of European enlargement. Taking into account three typical elements of any judicial training system—institutions, contents and methods—it highlights the difficulties encountered in reforming judicial training. In particular, it argues that the resistance to open up the judicial elite to social pluralism in order to allow the judiciary to act as an interface with civil society is due to the peculiarities of the Turkish socio-political system (i.e. a non-homogeneous society and the need of “lay” guardians of the Republic). As a consequence, European influence is still limited to the introduction of specific training catalogues, such as human rights and EU law, but (still) do not really affect the institutional framework, nor adapts judicial training contents and methods to social and political pluralism.

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