Another top candidate for judge who ranked second in nationwide exam eliminated in interview

Gökhan Kuşcuoğlu, a deputy provincial migration expert in Van, was eliminated in the interview stage for the position of judge despite ranking second nationally in last year’s judge candidacy exam, sparking nationwide controversy about Turkey’s interview system for judicial positions and civil service jobs, the Kronos news website reported on Sunday.

Kuşcuoğlu’s challenges with the interview system began in 2016, when he placed 43rd nationally in the Administrative Judiciary Assistant Judge exam. In 2019, he ranked 102nd. In 2021 he ranked 107th in the Administrative Judiciary exam and 123rd in the District Governorship exam. In 2022 he ranked 165th in the Administrative Judiciary exam. Finally in 2023 he ranked second in Turkey in the Administrative Judiciary exam, but he was eliminated each year during the interview stage.

Expressing his frustration with the interview process, Kuşcuoğlu said, “How can I prove that I can be a judge in three minutes?”

Favoritism in the appointment of public officials in Turkey has long been a contentious issue, sparking widespread criticism and debate. Allegations frequently surface about the prevalence of nepotism and patronage within the hiring process for various public sector positions, including those in the judiciary, education and civil service.

Critics argue that these practices undermine the meritocracy, leading to the selection of candidates based on personal connections or political affiliations rather than qualifications and competence. This pervasive issue has eroded public trust in government institutions and prompted calls for reform.

After seven years of trying to become a judge, Kuşcuoğlu initially decided not to take any more exams. Nevertheless, later, he wanted to give it a try one last time in the 2023 exams. “I ranked 186th in the district governorship exam and second in Turkey in the judiciary exam. I was overjoyed, thinking I would finally be accepted. But despite my high ranking, I was eliminated in the June 11 interview,” he said.

During last year’s general election, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promised to abolish the interview system for public personnel recruitment. However, more than a year has passed without any action from the government regarding this promise.

Following an abortive putsch in 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. Over 4,156 judges and prosecutors were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

The purge has hollowed out Turkey’s justice system even as the caseload has exploded. The expulsions have resulted in a shortage of experienced judges and prosecutors.

Take a second to support Stockholm Center for Freedom on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!