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Turkey

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Politics and government of
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Politics of Turkey takes place in a framework of a strictly secular parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Turkey is the head of government, and of a multi-party system.

Turkey's political system is based on a separation of powers. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Its current constitution was adopted on November 7, 1982 after a period of military rule, and enshrines the principle of secularism.

Contents

Executive branch

The function of head of state is performed by the president (Cumhurbaşkanı). A president is elected every five years by a public vote. The president does not have to be a member of parliament. The current, President Abdullah Gül, was elected by Parliament on August 28, 2007.[1] Executive power rests with the prime minister (Başbakan) and the Council of Ministers (Bakanlar Kurulu). The ministers don't have to be members of Parliament (an example is Kemal Derviş). The prime minister is elected by the parliament through a vote of confidence in his government. The prime minister is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose Islamic conservative AKP won a majority of parliamentary seats in the 2002 general elections. The Chairman of the Parliament is Köksal Toptan; from the same party. The current president of the Constitutional Court is Haşim Kılıç.[2] The Chief of Staff of the Turkish military is İlker Başbuğ.[3]

Legislative branch

Legislative power is invested in the 550-seat Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi), representing 81 provinces. The members are elected for a five year term by mitigated proportional representation with an election threshold of 10%. To be represented in Parliament, a party must win at least 10% of the national vote in a national parliamentary election. Independent candidates may run, and to be elected, they must only win 10% of the vote in the province from which they are running. The Turkish military plays an informal political role, seeing itself as the guardian of the secular, unitary nature of the republic. Political parties deemed anti-secular or separatist by the judiciary can be banned. Turkey has a multi-party system, with several strong parties.

The threshold is set to be reduced.[4]

Political principles of importance in Turkey

The Turkish Constitution and most mainstream political parties are built on the following principles:

Other political ideas have also influenced Turkish politics and modern history. Of particular importance are:

These principles are the continuum around which various - and often rapidly changing - political parties and groups have campaigned (and sometimes fought). On a superficial level, the importance which state officials attach to these principles and their posts can be seen in their response to breaches of protocol in official ceremonies.[5]

Political parties and elections

Since 1950, parliamentary politics has been dominated by conservative parties. Even the ruling AKP, although its core cadres root from the Islamist current, tends to identify itself with the "tradition" of DP. The leftist parties, most notable of which is CHP, with a stable electorate, draw much of their support from big cities, coastal regions, professional middle-class, and minority groups such as Alevis and Kurds.

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July 2007 election results and analysis

e • d  Summary of the 22 July 2007 Grand National Assembly of Turkey election results
Parties Votes Seats
No. ± No. ±
Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) 16,340,534 46.66 +12.38 341 –23
Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP) 7,300,234 20.85 +1.46 112 –66
Nationalist Movement Party (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, MHP) 5,004,003 14.29 +5.93 71 +71
Democratic Party (Demokrat Parti, DP) 1,895,807 5.41 –4.13 0 ±0
Independents (Bağımsız) 1,822,253 5.20 +4.20 26 +18
Youth Party (Genç Parti, GP) 1,062,352 3.03 –4.22 0 ±0
Felicity Party (Saadet Partisi, SP) 817,843 2.34 –0.15 0 ±0
Independent Turkey Party (Bağımsız Türkiye Partisi, BTP) 178,694 0.51 +0.03 0 ±0
People's Ascent Party (Halkın Yükselişi Partisi, HYP) 175,544 0.50 +0.50 0 ±0
Workers' Party (İşçi Partisi, İP) 127,220 0.36 –0.15 0 ±0
Enlightened Turkey Party (Aydınlık Türkiye Partisi, ATP) 99,938 0.29 +0.29 0 ±0
Communist Party of Turkey (Türkiye Komünist Partisi, TKP) 77,657 0.22 +0.03 0 ±0
Freedom and Solidarity Party (Özgürlük ve Dayanışma Partisi, ÖDP) 51,945 0.15 –0.19 0 ±0
Liberal Democratic Party (Liberal Demokrat Parti, LDP) 36,717 0.10 –0.18 0 ±0
Labour Party (Emek Partisi, EMEP) 26,574 0.08 +0.08 0 ±0
Total (turnout 84.4%) 35,017,315 100.0 550
Source: Seçim 2007

The independents' seats are divided as follows:[1]


13 members of the Democratic Left Party were elected under the Republican People's Party banner. [2]

The AKP won 46.76% of the vote giving them 341 parliamentary seats. CHP received 20.64%, which translating to control of 110 seats. MHP took third place with 14.33%, giving the party 71 seats. The independents (whose majority are the leftist pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party candidates) won 28 seats. The DTP is the successor to the previous pro-Kurdish party, the DHP. Independent candidates are not subject to the 10% threshold constraint placed on political parties.[6][7]

European Union officials welcomed the AKP's sweeping victory, describing it as "a mandate for the reforms it wants Turkey to complete during its membership talks."[8] The AKP nonetheless lacks the two-thirds majority in parliament necessary to push through legislation.

Judicial branch

The freedom and independence of the Judicial System is protected within the constitution. There is no organization, person, or institution which can interfere in the running of the courts, and the executive and legislative structures must obey the courts' decisions. The courts, which are independent in discharging their duties, must explain each ruling on the basis of the provisions of the Constitution, the laws, jurisprudence, and their personal convictions.

The Judicial system is highly structured. Turkish courts have no jury system; judges render decisions after establishing the facts in each case based on evidence presented by lawyers and prosecutors. For minor civil complaints and offenses, justices of the peace take the case. This court has a single judge. It has jurisdiction over misdemeanors and petty crimes, with penalties ranging from small fines to brief prison sentences. Three-judge courts of first instance have jurisdiction over major civil suits and serious crimes. Any conviction in a criminal case can be taken to a court of Appeals for judicial review.

All courts are open to the public. When a case is closed to the public, the court has to publish the reason. Judge and prosecution structures are secured by the constitution. Except with their own consent, no judge or prosecutor can be dismissed, have his/her powers restricted, or be forced to retire. However, the retirement age restrictions do apply. The child courts have their own structure.

A judge can be audited for misconduct only with the Ministry of Justice's permission, in which case a special task force of justice experts and senior judges is formed.

The High Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors is the principal body charged with responsibility for ensuring judicial integrity, and determines professional judges acceptance and court assignments. Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is still in head of the High Council.

Turkey is adapting a new national "Judicial Networking System" (UYAP). The court decisions and documents (case info, expert reports, etc) will be accessible via the Internet.

Turkey accepts the European Court of Human Rights' decisions as a higher court decision. Turkey also accepts as legally binding any decisions on international agreements.

Factor of the military

Since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded the modern secular Republic of Turkey in 1923, the Turkish military has perceived itself as the guardian of Kemalism, the official state ideology, even though Atatürk himself insisted on separating the military from politics. The Turkish Armed Forces still maintain an important degree of influence over Turkish politics and the decision-making process regarding issues related to Turkish national security, albeit decreased in the past decades, via the National Security Council.

The military has had a record of intervening in politics. Indeed, it assumed power for several periods in the latter half of the 20th century. It executed coup d'etats in 1960, 1971, and 1980. Most recently, it maneuvered the removal of the Islamic-oriented prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, in 1997.[9]

In April 27, 2007, in advance of the November 4, 2007 presidential election, and in reaction to the politics of the ruling Justice and Development Party, which has the majority of seats in the parliament, the army issued a statement of its interests. It said that the army is a party in "arguments" over secularism. Its statement closed with a veiled warning that the Turkish Armed Forces stood ready to intercede in politics, "The Turkish Armed Forces maintain their sound determination to carry out their duties stemming from laws to protect the unchangeable characteristics of the Republic of Turkey. Their loyalty to this determination is absolute."[10][11]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Profile: Abdullah Gul". BBC News. 2007-08-28. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6595511.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-01.  
  2. ^ Haşim KILIÇ - Başkan, Web site of the Constitutional Court
  3. ^ Commander of Turkish Armed Forces, Web site of the Turkish General Staff
  4. ^ Yavuz, Ercan (2008-09-20). "10 pct election threshold to be reduced". Today's Zaman. http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=153761. Retrieved 2008-09-19.  
  5. ^ "V-Day brings protocol debates back to agenda". Today's Zaman. 2008-09-01. http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=151781. Retrieved 2008-09-01.  
  6. ^ "Q&A: Turkish election". BBC News. 2007-07-22. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6906075.stm.  
  7. ^ "Re-elected Turkish PM vows to press on with bid to join EU". Reuters (Haaretz). 2007-07-23. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/884878.html. Retrieved 2008-07-01.  
  8. ^ "EU welcomes Erdogan election win". BBC News. 2007-07-23. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6912221.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-01.  
  9. ^ CIA world factbook: Turkey
  10. ^ "Excerpts of Turkish army statement". BBC News. 2007-04-28. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6602775.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-01.  
  11. ^ "Army 'concerned' by Turkey vote". BBC News. 2007-04-28. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6602375.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-01.  

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