Politics and Policy
Chonological List of Presidents
Turkish Prime Ministers
Constitutional movements during the Ottoman period commenced towards the end of the 18th century. During the period of the 1789-1808, Sultan Selim the Third envisaged the formation of an advisory assembly, called the Meclis-i Meshveret, within the context of the New System (called the Nizam-i Cedid) that he wanted to have set up, which is seen as a major step towards a constitutional government system.
The "Sened-i Ittifak", or Charter of Alliance, is seen as the first important document from the point of view of a constitutional order. Whilst the 1808 charter restricted the Sultan's exercise of power, it also delegated some authorities to a senate body, called the Ayan. The charter is a significant document as it was also recognized by the Sultan.
The Tanzimat Reform era commenced with the issue of the decree entitled "Gulhane Hatt-i Humayun" in 1839. The subjects of the Ottoman Padishah were assured that their basic rights would be respected.
The documents is especially significant for its recognition of equal rights in education and in government administration for those of Christian persuasion, exemplifying egalitarian principles. The 1875 document entitled the Ferman-i Adalet, or the Imperial Edict on Justice, provided for independence of the judicial courts and ensured the safety of judges.
The most important step along the road to the rule of law was made with the introduction of the 1876 Kanun-i Esasiye, or Constitution, which also started the period known as the First Meshrutiyet, or First Constitutional Period. The basic concept in the 1876 constitution is that, although somewhat restrictive in the exercise of powers, it nevertheless, for the first time, recognized a parliamentary system. This constitution has provisions covering basic rights and privileges, the independence of courts and the safety of judges, among other aspects.
After the 1876 Constitution had been in effect for one year, the Second Meshrutiyet period laid the foundations of a parliamentary system by adopting the 1876 Constitution with some amendments made thereto.
When the Turkish Grand National Assembly congregated on April 23, 1920, this in itself marked a unique and important change in the exercise of sovereignty.
During the Ottoman reign, the workings of Parliament were to an extent, the use by delegation of the powers of the ruler in the legislative process. Whereas, in the case of the workings of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, all authority was vested in Parliament itself.
The Constitution of January 20, 1921 is called the "Constitution Law", and when compared with the Ottoman legal system contains a radically new concept. According to this concept, whilst the power to legislate belongs to parliament, the executive powers can only be exercised by an "executive council" to be elected by majority vote from among the members of Parliament.
According to this "Law of Constitution", differences of opinion and disagreements between ministers are to be resolved in Parliament. In addition to this, the changing of ministers is also counted among the powers of Parliament. The name of the government during the course of the war of independence was the "Government of the Grand National Assembly" and the name of the regular army "The Army of the Grand National Assembly". On the other hand, the government itself was vested with the power to dissolve Parliament or to "renew the election of the Assembly".
In this system, which did not have a "Head of State", the members of Independence Tribunals were also elected from among the members of the Assembly.
An important step was taken to establish a Council of Ministers with more freedom of movement when a motion that the form of the state should be "Republic" was enacted on October 29, 1923; the President of the Republic was to be elected from among the members of the Assembly for one term of office. According to law, the President would select the Prime Minister from among the members of the Parliament. In turn the Prime Minister would select the other Ministers from among the members of Parliament and, finally, the President would submit the whole of the Council of Ministers for the approval of Parliament.
The 1924 Constitution provided for the continuation of the system of parliamentary governments. Powers of both legislation and execution were held by Parliament. Whilst Parliament had the right to monitor and if necessary to bring down the Government, neither the President nor the Government could dissolve Parliament.
Although under the provisions of the 1924 Constitution, executive powers could only be exercised by the President or the Council of Ministers, the 1924 Constitution, contained elements of both the parliamentary system and governmental executive powers. In this manner, whilst Parliament directly exercised legislative powers, a separation of powers did exist in view of the exercise of executive power. Furthermore, the principle of collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers to Parliament and the concept of the President not being vested with political responsibility are embodied in the 1924 Constitution.
The judicial and executive powers are clearly separated. Independent courts exercise judiciary powers on behalf of the nation.
The 1924 Constitution was amended in 1937, the six main principles of the Republican Peoples' Party programme, republicanism, nationalism, populism, statism, secularism, and reformism, also being enshrined in the Constitution itself as basic qualities of the state.
The 1924 Constitution represented a mixed system somewhere between parliamentary governments and a parliamentary model. The 1961 constitution brought about further developments in the parliamentary system.
The Legislature was a bi-cameral Parliament. One chamber was the National Assembly consisting of 450 deputies elected by universal suffrage. The other was the Republican Senate, composed of 150 Senators elected by universal suffrage, as well as fifteen Senators who were appointed by the President, in additional to which the members of the National Unity Committee and former Presidents of the Republic are lifetime Senators. In the functioning of the legislative process, the National Assembly has final say over the two houses.
In the exercise of executive power, the President symbolically represents the unity and integrity of the State, and the Prime Minister and other Ministers make up the Council of Ministers, who bear political responsibility in the use of this power.
The Prime Minister is appointed by the President from among the members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The Ministers are appointed by the Prime Minister and presented to the President for his ratification.
The 1961 Constitution fully separated the judiciary from the executive and the legislature, thereby clearly operating the separation of powers principle. In this system, details regarding the security of judges as well as matters related to full freedom and independence of the courts and the positions of the judges were turned over to the "High Commission for Judges", whose members were elected from among the judges of the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, the concept of the "Constitutional Court" was first introduced with the 1961 Constitution.
Whilst the 1982 Constitution continued the basic structure of the 1961 Constitution, it nevertheless made significant changes in several areas.
The Republican Senate was abolished in the 1982 Constitution.
According to the Constitution, unconditional and unrestricted sovereignty is vested in the nation. The people exercise their sovereignty directly through elections, and indirectly through the authorized organs within the framework of the principles laid down in the Constitution. The legislative, executive and judiciary are the organs which use sovereignty. The legislative power is vested in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) and cannot be delegated. Executive power and functions are exercised and carried out by the President of the Republic and the Council of Ministers, in conformity with the Constitution and the laws. Judicial power is exercised by independent courts.
The principle which brings the separation of powers into existence is the principle of a legal state. This principle provides for the supremacy of law in the existence of the state and the society. The power of the legislative and executive powers, are limited and balanced with the judiciary as the result of the principle of the supremacy of law. Legislative procedures and activities, and procedures of execution are dependent on judicial control. Thus, democracy is obtained and preserved in the state administration. The Constitution is equipped with the rules which guarantee this system. The rules of the Constitution are binding and of a superior quality and are the basic legal regulations which bind the legislative, executive and judicial organs, the government and the other persons and organizations. Furthermore, the hierarchy of the norms is adopted; it prevents the lower-norms from being in violation of the upper-norms. Constitutional Court decisions bind the legislative, executive and judicial organs, the government and all the real and juristic persons, and these decisions constitute the source of legality for the governmental procedures.
In the preamble of the Constitution, it is stated that every Turkish citizen has the right to exercise the fundamental rights and freedoms set forth in the Constitution according to the requirements of equality and social justice, in order to lead a dignified life in the national culture, civilization and legal system as well as the right and authority to develop one's material and spiritual being towards this end. It was not satisfied with this and in the articles of the Constitution, it is emphasized that the Republic of Turkey is a State which respects human rights. The state has been given the function of removing the political, economic and social obstacles which limit the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, which are not in accord with the principles of a social legal state and justice, and to attempt to prepare the necessary conditions for developing the physical and spiritual wellbeing of the people. The State has been given the duty and is obliged to provide for the family unity of the Turkish citizens who work in foreign countries, for the education of their children, for their cultural needs and social securities.
In the field of the fundamental rights and freedoms, the Constitution includes rules that are the result of perceptions of both natural law and contemporary law. Emphasizing that everyone has fundamental rights and freedoms which are inviolable, untransferable and unrenounceable, shows that the perception of natural law is dominant in the Constitution. The fundamental rights and freedoms also include the duties and responsibilities of the individual to the society, to his/her family and other individuals. In the context of fundamental rights, the right to live and to preserve and develop the physical and spiritual wellbeing have been recognized. The bodily integrity of the individual is inviolable, excluding medical necessities and situations written in the law. The individual cannot be made subject to scientific medical experiments without his/her consent. No one can be tortured or tormented; no one can be sentenced to a punishment which is not in accord with human dignity. Corvee is forbidden; no one can be forced to work. Everyone has individual freedom and security. The secrecy of private life is basic, and everyone has the right to request that respect is shown for his/her private and family life. Besides these, in the context of fundamental rights and freedoms, the following have been regulated and guaranteed with the Constitution: the inviolability of the home, the freedom of communications, the freedom of travel, the freedom of religion and conscience, the freedom of thought and opinion, the freedom of expression and dissemination of thoughts, the freedom of science and arts, the freedom of the press, the freedom of making a group with an organized structure, the right to hold meetings and demonstration marches and the right of property.
The Constitution of the Republic of Turkey also includes social and economic rights which are the result of the perception of contemporary law. The protection of family and youth, the right and the duty of training and education, the freedom to work and conclude contracts, union rights, fair wage, the right to live in a healthy, balanced environment, the right to housing, the right to social security and the protection of art and artists are within this context. Furthermore, the political rights and obligations, such as the right to vote and be elected, the obligation to pay tax and to serve in the military and the right of petition are also included.
The Constitution makes everyone equal before the law. Discrimination cannot be made among individuals because of language, religion, sect, race, color, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief and similar reasons. No privilege shall be granted to any individual, family, group or class.
Foreigners have the same rights and freedoms, taking into consideration national unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty and the independence of the Republic of Turkey. Rights and freedoms for foreigners can only be limited by law in accordance with international law. However, political rights and the right to enter into public service are only given to Turkish citizens.
Rules related to the limitation of fundamental rights and freedoms in the Constitution are in conformity with universal rules. The fundamental rights and freedoms can be limited with the objective of protecting the unity of the country and the nation, national sovereignty, the Republic, public order and interests, national and general security and general morality, health and for special reasons stated in the Constitution. However, this limitation cannot be in violation of the necessities of a democratic societal structure and cannot be used outside of the objective envisaged. The Constitutional Court has accepted "the limitation of the limits" of "the core" of the rights and freedoms and has decided that rules which harm the core of the rights and freedoms are not in accord with the necessities of a democratic societal structure.
The abuse of fundamental rights and freedoms has also been prohibited. It has been stated in the Constitution that fundamental rights and freedoms cannot be used with the objective of violating the integrity of the country and nation, of endangering the existence of the Turkish State and Republic, of destroying the fundamental rights and freedoms of others, of placing the government of the State under the control of an individual or a group of people, or of establishing the hegemony of one social class over others, or of creating discrimination on the basis of language, race, religion or sect, or of establishing by any other means a system of government based on these concepts and ideas. Furthermore, the fundamental rights and freedoms are protected, as well, against the illegal interventions of the State.
Every Turkish citizen has the right to open a law suit at the judicial courts in case his/her fundamental rights and freedoms are violated; however, they do not have the right to apply directly to the Constitutional Court. Citizens can claim violation of the Constitution in law suits opened at the courts. If the Court finds this claim to be valid, then it can refer the subject to the Constitutional Court.
Turkey accepted the United Nations Universal Charter of Human Rights in 1949, and ratified the European Agreement Concerning the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in 1954. The right for individual applications from Turkish citizens to the European Commission of Human Rights was recognized in 1987; the compulsory judicial power of the European Court of Human Rights was recognized in 1989. Thus, international control on the subject of human rights was adopted. Some of the regulations in the Charter and Agreement were reflected in the Constitution; and this Charter and Agreement was a source for the justifications for some of the regulations.
According to the Constitution, the form of the State is a Republic and unconditional, unrestricted sovereignty belongs to the nation. The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular social legal state, respecting human rights and committed to the nationalism of Atatürk.
The fact that unconditional, unrestricted sovereignty belongs to the nation, reflects the democratic state model. The democracy adopted by the Constitution is representative democracy. The people elect their representatives with their votes, and thus they indirectly use their sovereignty rights. Beyond this, sovereignty is used by the authorized organs in accordance with the principle of the separation of powers and according to the principles in the Constitution. No one or organ can use the State authority which does not have its source from the Constitution. The considered referendum, which is the direct use of sovereignty, is only for changes in the Constitution. Authorized organs for using sovereignty cannot be outside of the free democracy and the legal system determined by the requirements of this democracy.
The Constitution adopted the "unitary state" model and the principle of a "single people" within the cultural mosaic. The nation is "single," the country is "whole", and the State is "one."
The legal state foreseen in the Constitution is based on the principle of the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms and the separation of powers. The supremacy of law is the foundation. Legislative procedures are subject to the control of the Constitutional Court and executive procedures and activities are subject to the control of the Administrative Court.
According to the principle of secularism, no one can make the basic social, economic, political and legal system of the State depend on religious rules even partially; and cannot abuse religion, religious beliefs and objects which are considered to be sacred by religion in any manner whatsoever, with the objective of obtaining political or personal advantages or influence.
Political parties are indispensable components of democratic life. However, the Constitution guarantees the independence of the State, the inseparable unity of the country and nation, the national sovereignty, advocacy of the freedom of democracy, secularism, human rights and freedoms and the principle of the legal state. It also foresees the closing, by the Constitutional Court, of the political parties which have regulations, programs or activities that are in violation of these principles and components.
The principle of a social state is a contemporary component which completes the traditional principle of the legal state. This principle has assigned the State to protect individuals who are socially weak against the socially strong and to provide social justice and social security.
The Constitution has decrees which cannot be amended and cannot even be proposed to be amended. The decrees related to the Turkish State being a Republic, the precepts on which the state system is based, the unitary structure of the state, the design of its flag, the national anthem, and that Turkish is the official language and the capital of Turkey is Ankara are decrees that cannot be amended and cannot even be proposed to be amended.
From the aspect of decrees other than these, the stipulation of a qualified majority is considered for an amendment to the Constitution, and a special method has been adopted. To make an amendment to the Constitution, it is necessary for there to be the written proposal from a minimum of one third of the total number of members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA), the Parliamentary General Assembly should discuss the proposal twice and the proposal should be accepted by a majority of three fifths of the total number of members of the Parliament in a secret ballot. The President has the authority to send the laws related to amendments to the Constitution back to the Parliament to be discussed once more, and to present them to a referendum.
The power to legislate is vested in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA), which performs this function on behalf of the Turkish nation. This power may not be delegated.
The TGNA was first empowered to exercise legislative power in Ankara on April 23, 1920, in Ankara by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
This Assembly functioned under the extraordinary circumstances and exercised legislative, executive and judicial powers under the concept of the unity of these powers.
The 1924 Constitution was prepared on the principle of unification of the power. The Judiciary, however, was to some extent independent. Furthermore, this unification of the powers was to a certain degree softened by providing for the exercise of the executive power by the Cabinet, then called the "Executive Council".
The 1961 Constitution did away with the unification of powers. In this Constitution, the power to legislate was vested in the two chambers: The National Assembly and the restored Republican Senate. The executive power rested with the President and the Council of Ministers, provided that their actions were within the limits delineated by the law. The exercise of judicial power was to be used in independent tribunals on behalf of the nation.
In the 1982 Constitution, the duties and authorities of the TGNA, now composed of one chamber, are outlined as follows:
The TGNA convenes of its own accord on the first day of September of each year. The Assembly may recess for a maximum of three months in any one legislative year. During an adjournment or recess, the Assembly may be summoned by the President either on his own initiative or at the request of the Council of Ministers. The Speaker of the House may also, either on his own initiative or upon the written request of one-fifth of the members, call the Assembly into session.
The Chairmanship Council of the Grand National Assembly is composed of the Speaker of the House, his Deputies, Scribe Members and the Administrative Supervisory members. The Council is elected from among the Assembly members in due proportion to the number of members in each political party group.
The Assembly takes its decision by the absolute majority vote of those present.
Unless a decision has been taken to hoist a closed session, all debates of the Assembly may be viewed by spectators and are held openly. The proceedings are published in the Journal of Records, and unless a decision to the contrary has been taken, may be published by any means.
The TGNA exercises its parliamentary control functions by means of parliamentary questions, parliamentary investigations, general debates, ministerial questioning and inquiries.
Speakers of the National Assembly
Speaker of the Consultative Assembly
Speakers of the Republican Senate
According to the Constitution, the exercise of the executive power is vested in and is used by the President and the Council of Ministers.
The President, who is Head of State, represents the Republic of Turkey and the unity of the Turkish Nation. The President oversees the workings of the Constitution and ensures that the organs of the state function in an orderly and harmonious manner. He is elected for a one-time term of seven years either from among the members of the TGNA or from among those who are Turkish citizens of over 40 years of age and eligible to be elected to the TGNA, from among persons who have completed standard education.
The duties and authority of the President with respect to legislation are:
The duties and authorities of the President in the exercise of executive power are:
Duties and authority of the President related to the Judiciary consist of appointing the members of the Constitutional Court, one fourth of the members of Council of State, the Chief and Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor of the Supreme Military Administrative Tribunal and the members of the Supreme Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors.
All decrees, with the exception of those with which the President is specifically empowered by the Constitution or by other laws to sign singly without need for the co-signature of the Prime Minster and the related Minister, must be co-signed by the Prime Minister and the related Minister. The Prime Minister and the related Minister shall be held accountable for these decrees.
No appeal may be made to any legal body, including the Constitutional Court, against the decrees and presidential orders signed directly by the President of the Republic.
The Prime Minister is responsible for ensuring that the Council functions in a harmonious manner as well as for coordination between the Ministries. The 1982 Constitution has not only strengthened the powers of the President but those of the Prime Minister as well.
According to the Constitution, each Minister is accountable to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister ensures that the Ministers fulfill their functions in accordance with the Constitution and the laws, and he is vested with the obligation to take corrective measures for this very reason.
The President may dismiss Ministers upon the proposal of the Prime Minister.
Even as the Council of Ministers bear collective responsibility for the implementation of the general policies of the government, they are also individually responsible for action within the domain of their jurisdictions and for the acts and actions of their subordinates. The political responsibilities of the Ministers emerge as the result of parliamentary motion of interpellation or a motion for no-confidence.
The Council of Ministers which is politically accountable to the Legislature is composed of the Prime Minister and the ministers. The Prime Minister is selected by the President. The ministers are selected by the Prime Minister and all are appointed by the President.
While the ministers are not required to be deputies, the Prime Minister must be a member of Parliament.
As a tradition in the Turkish parliamentary system, the President appoints the ministers who are selected by the Prime Minister. In practice, the Presidents either approve the list presented to them for ratification as it is, or else they make changes to the list as they see fit.
Although the Constitution does not specify any period, the President is able to decide upon renewal of elections under certain circumstances and in the event the Council of Ministers is not formed within a period of 45 days.
Following the appointment of the Ministers by the President, the list is presented to the Grand National Assembly; the Council of Ministers assume office without waiting for a vote of confidence.
Any disagreement which may arise following the submission of the list to the Grand National Assembly or after the government receives the vote of confidence is resolved between the Assembly and the Council of Ministers in the manner provided for in the Constitution.
The Turkish Grand National Assembly may cause the government to fall by vote of no-confidence, and the President has the power to seek renewal of the elections under certain conditions.
The formation or abolition of Ministries, the exercise of authority and the regulation of organization are subject to the enactment of laws.
The government program must be read by either the Prime Minister or a Minister in Parliament, at the latest within one week following the presentation of the list showing the composition of the Council of Ministers to the Assembly, and to seek the vote of confidence.
It is mandatory to receive a vote of confidence to apply the government program.
Debates upon the government program commence two full days after the reading of the program and the vote is taken one full day after the debates have been completed.
The vote of confidence is taken by absolute majority of those
present but this may not be less than one fourth of the total number of
The fundamental duty of the Council of Ministers is to formulate
and implement the internal and foreign policies of the nation. The Council
is accountable to Parliament in the conduct of this duty.
The Constitution has redefined the procedure for the issue of decrees with the force of law and it has expanded the scope of its application, removing the need to indicate in the Authorization Law which of the rules of law are no longer applicable in any particular instance. The resignation or fall of the Council of Ministers or the end of the legislative term do not cancel the authority given, albeit even for a set period of time.
The Council of Ministers, meeting under the Chairmanship of the President under state of emergency or when martial law is proclaimed, has the right to issue decrees with force of law without the need to obtain the authorization of Parliament.
In the western sense, political parties in Turkey made their first appearance by the end of the 19th century. It was during this period that the graduates of modern schools, army officers and civil servants pioneered political movements essentially aiming to prevent further decline of the Ottoman Empire and to introduce the principles of nationalism, freedom and equality that had emerged in the west.
During the era of the second Mesrutiyet (Second Constitutional Government) and thereafter, the Ittiaht ve Terraki (Committee for Unity and Progress) was the sole party. During the War of Independence the Republican Peoples' Party (originally the Halk Firkasi) became the dominant sole party, and it remained in power until the advent of the multi-party system in 1946, indeed until the election of the Democrat Party to office in 1950.
A competitive and pluralistic party system has been in operation in Turkey since 1946. The political parties are an indivisible and indispensable part of Turkish political life.
The formation, activities, supervision and dissolution of political parties are regulated by the provisions of the 1982 Constitution and the Political Parties Law of April 22, 1983.
All citizens of Turkey, with the exception of civil servants and members of the Armed Forces, who are over 18 years of age may form and become members of political parties provided that they conform with and meet the related procedures in this regard.
Prior permission for the formation of a political party is not required. The parties are allowed to function freely in accordance with the provisions of the related laws and the Constitution.
The Constitution rules that the internal workings and decisions of the political parties must conform to democratic precepts. The financial auditing of the parties may only be made by the Constitutional Court. The closure of any political party is only possible upon the ruling of the Constitutional Court to this effect.
The organization of a political party consists of its central organs, its provincial and county organizations and the party group in Parliament.
All political parties must establish their headquarters in Ankara and formation requires the signatures of at least 30 Turkish citizens who are flexible for election to Parliament.
The highest authority within the political party is its own general convention. The central organization of the political party consists of the general convention, the leader of the party, its central decision-making and executive board, its disciplinary board and its caucus.
According to the Constitution, all citizens have the right to vote, to be elected, to engage in political activities independently or within a political party and to take par in a referendum in conformity with the conditions set forth in the law.
All Turkish citizens over 18 years of age have the right to vote in elections and to take part in referendums.
Under the Constitution, elections and referendums are free and secret and are conducted on the basis of equality, direct suffrage and open counting and classifying of votes.
The Constitution states that the deputies elected to Parliament do not represent only their own constituencies and those who elected them but the nation as a whole.
The General Election Law enacted in 1983 provided for a double "barrage" and a limited preferential D-Hondt system: the 1983 elections were held under this system. Thereafter amendments made to the Election Law on July 10, 1987 resulted in the 1987 elections being conducted under revised precepts. Under the provisions of the July10 amendments, political parties wishing to participate in elections have to fulfill the following conditions.
They must have established organizations in at least half of the provinces at least six months prior to the date of the election, and either have held their general conventions, or have parliamentary groups.
Organizations in any province shall mean that the party has set up organizations in at least two thirds of that province, inclusive of the provincial center.
They are obliged to nominate at least twice the number of deputies as are to be elected in the provinces in which they intend to contest the elections.
According to the Constitution, in order to be elected as a member of the TGNA (National Assembly) one must:
Diverging from the traditional election term of four years, the 1982 Constitution introduced the rule that elections for the TGNA be held every five years. The reasons for this change were to give sufficient time to the government formed after the elections to realize its program and to avoid frequent election fever in the country.
The assembly may decide to hold elections before the expiration of the election term. Similarly elections may be held on the decision of the President under the circumstances defined in the Constitution.
Under the Constitution, the President may decide to hold parliamentary elections in the following cases:
Under these circumstances, the President, the consultation with the TGNA President, may call new elections.
If the holding of new elections is found impossible because of war, the TGNA may decide to defer elections for a year. If the grounds for deferment do not disappear, this measure may be repeated.
The Constitution has reduced the number of by-elections which are held when vacancies arise in parliamentary seats. By-elections are held once in every election term and cannot be held until 30 months have elapsed since the previous general elections. However, when the number of vacant seats reaches five percent of the total number of seats, by-elections are held within three months.
Meanwhile, by-elections cannot be held within one year prior to general elections, even if the number of vacant seats reaches five percent of the total number. The reason behind this rule is to prevent frequent election upheavals in the country.
The Supreme Election Board, composed of the members of the Court of Appeals and the Council of State, is responsible for ensuring the fair and orderly conduct of the elections from the beginning to the end of polling. it also carried out investigations and makes final decisions on all irregularities, complaints and objections concerning the elections during and after the polling, and verifies the election returns of the TGNA members.
The Constitution also rules that the Supreme Election Board shall conduct and supervise referendums on legislation amending the Constitution.
The Supreme Election Board is composed of seven permanent and four reserve members. Six of its members are elected by the General Assembly of the Court of Appeals from among its own members and five are elected the same way by the General Assembly of the Council of State. The elected members of the Supreme Election Board elect from among themselves their chairman and acting chairman.
Apart from the administration and supervision of the elections, the Supreme Election Board also deals with the judicial review of the elections. No appeal can be made to any authority against the rulings and decisions of the Supreme Election Board.
Local administration is the system of administration established to meet the common needs of the people living in a specific region and managed by bodies elected by these people. Local administrative agencies are authorized by the central government agencies to introduce rules and meet financial obligations on matters related to the region. Municipalities, provincial local governments and villages are the three types of local administration operating in Turkey.
Most of the municipal services available today were carried out by individuals and foundations during the Ottoman period. However, the gradual increase of daily needs in the cities created the need to set up a more orderly organization. The first municipal organization was established in Istanbul in 1854. Municipalities in other cities followed with the municipal laws of 1868 and 1876.
During the Republican period, a special system was adopted for Ankara in 1924. Later on, the law of April 3, 1930, based on the French system, prescribed in detail the organization and functions of the municipalities.
All municipalities are public corporate entities. Municipal organizations must be set up in all provincial and district centers. Municipalities are required to meet the common regional and civic needs of the region and the regional populace.
Municipalities and villages near big cities, the populations of which were over 300,000 during the last census, may be attached to the metropolitan municipality so that basic municipal services may be carried out in an adequate and efficient matter and under complimentary plans.
Besides carrying out duties related to health and social assistance, public works, education, agriculture, the economy and the well-being of the citizens, municipalities are required to take the necessary measures to meet all civic needs through municipal services.
In order to secure the well-being and health of the regional populace and maintain order in the region municipalities are authorized:
Municipal administration comprises an assembly, a council, and a mayor. The Municipal Assembly, elected by popular vote, varies in size with the population and approves the annual budget of the municipality, plans, projects related to public works and city planning and determines taxes, rates of duties, fees and tariffs of various sorts.
The Municipal Council consists of the mayor, the heads of the municipal departments and members elected by the municipal assembly from among its own members. It prepared transport tariffs and fees, sets commodity prices, determines municipal fines, checks, budgets and decides on the hiring, firing and promotion of city employees.
The Mayor is the chief executive and representative of the municipality. He is elected for a term of five years.
Municipal Council members are elected by the proportional representation system. Mayors are elected by simple majority.
In big cities, where there is more than one district within municipal borders, the electoral zone for the election of the mayor of the metropolitan municipality is restricted by the municipal borders of he metropolis. Each district elects its own mayor and municipal assembly members.
Every Turkish citizen eligible to become a deputy in the National Assembly and who has lived in a specific electoral zone for at least six months may be elected mayor or municipal assembly member for the area.
The foundation of provincial local governments, with their present structure, dates back to the post-Second Constitutional Period. With the enactment of the law of March 26, 1913, they became corporate entities and their authority was extended. The functions of the provincial local government organizations operating under various laws can be grouped as follows:
The governor, the representative of the central administration, is also the head of the provincial local government and its chief executive. The governor usually acts in line with the decisions made by the provincial general assembly. The provincial general assembly, the most authoritative body of the organization, consists of members elected for a term of four years. Meeting every year for forty days under the governor, it approves the provincial budget and makes decisions regarding the institutional services of the province.
The standing provincial council, composed of four members elected for a term of one year by the provincial general assembly from among its own members, reviews and approves fiscal matters, informs the provincial general assembly of the state of affairs of the organization and submits to the mayor, upon his request, its views related to local government operations.
Members of the provincial general assembly are elected by the proportional representation system, provided that their parties receive at least 10 percent of the votes.
Each district forms an electoral zone for elections to the provincial general assembly.
People with common property such as a mosque, school and pasture and who live in scattered or closely packed houses make up, together with their yards, gardens and land, a village. A village administration is formed in villages where at least 150 people live. This administration is a corporate entity. The basic body in the village administration is the Village Assembly. This assembly, composed of villages over the age of 21, elects the village headman (Muhtar) and members of the Council of Eldes. It decides on whether some optional duties should be made obligatory and determines the salary of the headman.
The Council of Elders consists of four to six permanent and
four to six reserve members, in line with the village population. The
imam (prayer leader) and the village schoolteacher are also on the Council.
The Council of Elders makes recommendations concerning the conduct of
village affairs and determines the things to be done. The village headman
is elected to the village assembly for a term of five years. He represents
the central administration and supervises the planning and operation of
village projects and services.
Public services are provided in Turkey by many institutions
operating in the administrative, economic, social scientific, technical
and cultural fields. These institutions may be examined under the headings
of administrative public institutions, state economic enterprises, social
assistance institutions, scientific, technical and cultural public organizations
and professional organizations with the status of public institutions.
There are institutions with annexed budgets which have corporate entities and which have been set up with the objective of ensuring the better administration of certain public services rendered by the central administration. Such institutions cannot elect their own boards-these are appointed by the central administration. Both these bodies and the employees working in such institutions are subject to the close supervision of the central administration. A general director, appointed by the State, heads the institution.
The Directorate General of Foundations, Directorate General
of Physical Training, Highway Administration, Directorate General of State
Hydraulic works, Directorate General of State Monopolies, Forest Administration,
Directorate General of State Breeding Farms, Directorate General of State
Airports and Department of Petroleum are some examples of administrative
When more than half of the capital of a public concern or corporation belongs to the State directly or indirectly, these corporations are called State Economic Enterprises (SEEs). This is a common term for both state and public economic enterprises. State Economic Enterprises properties are entirely state-owned. They are established in accordance with the law and operate in line with commercial rules. Public economic enterprises are also established in accordance with the law and they produce and market monopoly items as well as basic commodities and services. The public service nature of their operations is more apparent than that of State Economics Enterprises.
State Economic Enterprises have corporate entities and are subject to special legal proceedings. However, they are not subject to the General Accounting Law, the Law on State Biddings and Purchases or supervision by the Court of Accounts. Their responsibilities are limited by the amount of their capitals.
Such enterprises operating in the field of banking may take the form of joint stock companies, provided that 91 percent of their capital is owned by the State.
The executive boards of State Economic Enterprises consist of a chairman and five members.
State Economic Enterprises are autonomous in their activities. The relationship between a SEE and the affiliated ministry is not of hierarchical nature. The affiliated ministry acts as liaison between the SEE and the administration, as well as the legislature.
The economic activities of the SEEs are in conformity with
commercial rules. Profitability and productivity are their principal objectives.
Since the private sector was in inadequate in launching the development process during the early years of the Republic, the States made investments in various fields so as to be the driving force of the economy. However, due to the rapid development experienced during the 1980's, especially in science, technology, telecommunications and transportation, countries were brought closer together both politically and economically, and they way was paved for the establishment of a common market economy.
In this regard, Turkey has made great strides in the transition to a market economy, integration within this new global system, and restructuring its owns economy.
Within this framework, the state no longer intervenes directly in economic issues. It has intensified its work in infrastructure and social services. The most important work the state has undertaken, however, is privatization.
The Public Participation Administration is responsible for matters concerning privatization and the Public High Council is the decision-making branch of this organization. The laws under which privatization is carried out are: No. 2983 dated March 17, 1984, No. 3291 dated May 28, 1986, No. 3701 dated March 6, 1991 and three decrees in the force of law.
The Council of Ministers has the authority to privatize the State Economic Enterprises (SEEs). The High Planning Council is responsible for the activities, affiliated organizations, administration, control and financial arrangements of the SEEs until the said organizations are privatized and the state share of their capital falls below 50%.
The Public Participation High Council determines privatization policies and sale of the state shares of these organizations.
The aim of privatization
The institutions for social security established by the State play and important role in securing the right of social security for everyone in conformity with the principle of a "social state" as prescribed in Article 2 of the Constitution. Three major social security institutions and all public corporate entities provide citizens with social security. These institutions are the Retirement Trust, the Social Insurance Board and BAG-KUR (Social Insurance Board for businessmen, craftsmen and other Independent professionals).
The Retirement Trust is an autonomous public institution affiliated to the Ministry of Finance and Customs. It was established with the objective of extending pensions funds to, and dealing with retirement procedures of, those employed by the State, municipalities, provincial local governments and State Economic Enterprises.
The Social Insurance Board is a public institution enjoying financial and administrative autonomy. It is affiliated to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. This institution was first set up on July 16, 1945 under the name of Workers' Insurance and acquired its present-day status and name in 1964.
BAG-KUR was set up on September 2, 1971, and is attached to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. It covers small businessmen, craftsmen and other independent professionals. It also has financial and administrative autonomy.
Apart from these, there are other institutions extending social
security services. For example, the Society for the Protection of Children
is a general directorate with an annexed budget which is affiliated to
the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance. This institution has the
duty of determining principles regarding social services to be extended
to needy families, children, the elderly and the disabled as well as preparing
the necessary executive plans and coordinating with other related organizations.
Certain state institutions have been developed as autonomous and neutral organizations in accordance with the Constitution. For example, while the universities have academic autonomy, the radio and television administration and public news agencies are neutral organizations. Universities are founded by the State in accordance with the law. They have public corporate status and academic autonomy. They consist of various units providing qualified manpower for the country, conducting scientific research, carrying out consultancy services, publishing scientific and technical journals and extending other services to the nation and humanity.
Apart from the universities, the Turkish and Middle East Public Administration Institute, as prescribed by its founding law, is an educational and research institution with corporate identity enjoying administrative, scientific and financial autonomy.
According to Turkish law radio and television broadcasting stations are established only by an impartial public corporate body. However, some private radio and television stations broadcast to Turkey from abroad via satellite and the legal arrangements allowing them to broadcast in Turkey have almost been completed. The law prescribes the observance of the principle of neutrality in all sorts of broadcasts and in the administration and supervision of the TRT. The principle of neutrality is also valid for news agencies which operate with the status of public economic enterprises or which receive financial assistance from the State or other public corporations.
Furthermore, the Supreme Board of Radio and Television, which was set up with the objective of determining principles for radio and television broadcasts that would conform to national policy, is a public corporate institution with administrative autonomy.
Besides the institutions of higher education and the TRT (Turkish Radio and Television Corporation), a new public institution dealing with cultural affairs is included in the 1982 Constitution. This is the Ataturk High Council for Culture, Language and History. It is a public corporation attached to the Prime Minister's Office.
The aim of this high institution is to conduct scientific research, to produce publications and to disseminate information on the thoughts, principles and reforms of Ataturk, Turkish culture, Turkish history and the Turkish language. The Ataturk Research Center, Turkish Language Society, Turkish Historical Society and the Ataturk Cultural Center are four separate corporate bodies attached to the High Council.
These organizations, also called public professional organizations, are public corporate bodies which carry out public services and which have certain rights vis-a-vis their members in line with civil law. The objectives of public professional organizations established by law and comprised of members from a given profession are to meet the common needs of the members of that profession, to facilitate their professional activities, to ensure the development of the profession in keeping with common interests and to safeguard professional discipline and ethics in order to ensure integrity and trust in relations among its members and with the public.
The various organs of the professional organizations with the status of public institutions are elected by secret ballot by their members in accordance with the procedure set forth in the law and under judicial supervision.
The responsible bodies of public professional organizations may be dissolved by a court ruling, except under certain circumstances.
Public professional organizations are subject to the administrative and financial supervision of the State as prescribed by law.
The Union of Turkish Bars (TBB)
The primary and most important defender of Turkey's independence are the Armed Forces. In today's Turkey, the primary missions of the Turkish Armed Forces are the defense and protection of the nation and the Republic, and the fulfillment of the NATO duties assigned by international treaties. The Turkish Armed Forces aim to modernize and upgrade their weapons systems to bring them into line with NATO standards, the better to defend national independence and to fulfill the requirements of a collective defense system.
The section of the Turkish constitution on national defense has various provisions pertaining to the office of the Commander-in-Chief, the General Staff and the National Security Council. Article 117 of the Constitution stipulates that the office of the Commander-in-Chief is inseparable from the Turkish Grand National Assembly and that it is held by the President of the Republic. According to the same article of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers is responsible to the Turkish Grand National Assembly for national security and for the preparation of the Armed Forces for the defense of the country. The article says, "The Chief of the General Staff is the commander of the Armed Forces, and, in time of war, exercises the duties of the Commander-in-Chief on behalf of the President of the Republic."
The National Security Board is to submit the Council of Ministers its views on the formulation, establishment and implementation of the national security policy of the State and on ensuring coordination to this end.
The two main institutions responsible for the defense of the country are the Ministry of National Defense and the General Staff. Functioning under the General Staff, the Commands of the Land, Naval and Air Forces and the General Command of the Gendarmerie form the main commands responsible for national defense and the protection of territorial integrity.
With the purpose of maintaining her national existence, of strengthening her defenses and keeping pace with technological progress, Turkey allocates adequate funds to the budget of the Ministry of National Defense within existing possibilities. For the year 1992 the budget of the Defense Ministry was fixed by parliament at TL 23,904,500,000,000. This equaled 11.5% of the national budget.
The Turkish Armed Forces have also started producing armaments for their own use and which are necessary for the defense of the country.
The activities of the military are not confined to the defense of the country only but are also oriented towards creating new values and making social, economic and educational contributions to society as a whole.
Education and training offered by the Turkish Armed Forces to the youth of Turkey, who come from different backgrounds, unites them around a common aim and help them acquire a social conscience that keeps Turkish history and culture alive. On the other hand, technological training given during military service turns conscripts into qualified personnel able to contribute to the development of the country.
Furthermore, the organization of literacy courses, the production of medical drugs in the military pharmaceuticals plant, the treatment of civilians in military hospitals within limits permitted by laws and regulations, mapping services offered to the public sector and research and development activities can be cited as other contributions of the Turkish Armed Forces to the Turkish economy.
The mission of the Turkish Armed Forces is to defend and protect the Turkish land and the Turkish Republic, the characteristics of which are defined by the Constitution, against internal and external threats. The timely and correct identification of threats against the unity of the country and the nation or against the basic principles of the Constitution, the formation of adequate forces to counter these threats, the maintenance of a state of readiness and the elimination of actual threats within the framework of the responsibilities defined by the Constitution and the law form the basic elements of this mission.
According to the Constitution, military service is the right and duty of every Turkish citizen. The manner in which this service shall be performed, or regarded as performed, either in the Armed Forces or in public service, is regulated by law. For this duty to be performed, all males who are Turkish citizens and qualified, are enlisted. The military service period commences on the first day of the year in which they reach the age of 20.
In order to be enlisted as reserve officers, one has to be a graduate of a faculty or higher educational institution whose courses of study last at least 4 years.
The Interior Ministry, responsible for the maintenance of internal security as well as for the protection of public order in Turkey, fulfills this function through the General Command of the Gendarmerie, the Directorate of National Security and the Coast Guard Command.
June 14, 1839, the date of the approval of the "Law for the Gendarmerie Troops", ratified after the proclamation of the "Tanzimat", saw the foundation of the Gendarmerie Organization. After 1839, new arrangements were made by five laws and a Council of Ministers decision in force of law. The Organization was revised by various laws later and with the March 10, 1983 law numbered 2803, "Gendarmerie Organization, Duties and Authority Law", it was reorganized according to the needs of the time.
To preserve peace and security and to protect public order, the General Command of the Gendarmerie was set up in 1923 in its present-day form.
The Gendarmerie General Command, which is a part of the Turkish armed forces, fulfills its armed forces-related missions under the General Staff in terms of its training and educational aspects, and as missions related to public peace and order under the Ministry of the Interior. The Gendarmerie Commander is responsible to the Interior Minister.
The first police organization in the country was established in Istanbul on April 10, 1845, and the first Police Regulations, published on the same date, defined the tasks of this new organization. The security organization had many structural changes by the laws legislated after 1845, and finally law 3201 June 4, 1937 defined and regulated the duties, responsibilities, powers and personnel details of the national police.
Consequently, although affiliated to the Ministry of the Interior, the Directorate General of Security became an agency administered under its own law.
The Coast Guard was established in 1859, during the Ottoman period and was called "Rusumet Emaneti Teskilati". With its affiliated organization "Muhafaza Memurlugu" or Guarding Administration it controlled the coasts and it fought smuggling. Today, the Coast Guard is a part of the Turkish Armed Forces and during peace time it is affiliated to the Interior Ministry. However, during emergencies and during war it is placed under the command of the Naval Forces.
Its headquarters is in Ankara and there are four SG Sea Command units stationed in Izmir, Istanbul and Mersin and two SG Group Command units in Antalya and Marmaris.
Governments in Turkish Grand National Assembly
Governments in Republic of Turkey