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World > Middle East > Turkey > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Turkey - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The 1982 Constitution, drafted by the military in the wake of a 1980 military coup, proclaims Turkey's system of government as democratic, secular, and parliamentary. The presidency's powers are not precisely defined in practice, and the president's influence depends on his personality and political weight. The president and the Council of Ministers led by the prime minister share executive powers. The president, who has broad powers of appointment and supervision, is chosen by Parliament for a term of 7 years and cannot be reelected. A constitutional amendment recommending the direct election by the people of the president to a 5-year term, with the possibility of serving a second 5-year term, may be submitted to a popular referendum in 2007. The prime minister administers the government. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers are responsible to Parliament.

The 550-member Parliament carries out legislative functions. Election is by proportional representation. To participate in the distribution of seats, a party must obtain at least 10% of the votes cast at the national level as well as a percentage of votes in the contested district according to a complex formula. The president enacts laws passed by Parliament within 15 days. With the exception of budgetary laws, the president may return a law to the Parliament for reconsideration. If Parliament reenacts the law, it is binding, although the president may then apply to the Constitutional Court for a reversal of the law. Constitutional amendments pass with a 60% vote, but require a popular referendum unless passed with a two-thirds majority; the president may also submit amendments passed with a two-thirds majority to a popular referendum.

The judiciary is declared to be independent, but the need for judicial reform and confirmation of its independence are subjects of open debate. Internationally recognized human rights, including freedom of thought, expression, assembly, and travel, are officially enshrined in the Constitution but have at times been narrowly interpreted, can be limited in times of emergency and cannot be used to violate what the Constitution and the courts consider the integrity of the state or to impose a system of government based on religion, ethnicity, or the domination of one social class. The Constitution prohibits torture or ill treatment; the current government has focused on ensuring that practice matches principle. Labor rights, including the right to strike, are recognized in the Constitution but can be restricted.

The 1982 Constitution provides for a system of State Security Courts to deal with offenses against the integrity of the state. The high court system includes a Constitutional Court responsible for judicial review of legislation, a Court of Cassation (or Supreme Court of Appeals), a Council of State serving as the high administrative and appeals court, a Court of Accounts, and a Military Court of Appeals. The High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, appointed by the president, supervises the judiciary.

In the November 2002 election of Turkey's 58th government, the Justice and Development Party (AK) captured 34.3% of the total votes, making Abdullah Gul Prime Minister, followed by the Republican People's Party (CHP) with 19.39% of the vote, led by Deniz Baykal. A special General Election was held again in the province of Siirt in March 2003, resulting in the election of AK's chairman Recep Tayyip Erdogan to a seat in parliament, allowing him to become prime minister. AK and CHP were the only parties to surpass the 10% threshold required to hold seats in parliament. The elections resulted in 363 of the 550 seats going to AK, 178 seats to CHP, and 9 as independent. Due to a reshuffle in party affiliation, AK holds 367 seats, CHP holds 175 seats, five are independent, and three joined the True Path Party (DYP). In March 2004 nationwide local elections, AKP won 57 of 81 provincial capital municipalities and, with 41.8% of the votes for provincial council seats, consolidated its hold on power.

The Turkish Grand National Assembly was to have elected in May 2007 a new president to succeed President Sezer on June 16. Opposition parties led a challenge to the electoral procedures, which resulted in a series of proposed constitutional amendments and the call for early general elections on July 22. The new parliament, which was sworn in on July 28, includes 341 AKP members, 98 CHP members, 70 Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) members, 20 Democratic Society Party (DTP) members, 13 Democratic Left Party (DSP) members, and 7 independents. Following the election, Sezer reappointed Erdogan as PM and then-Foreign Minister Gul declared his presidential candidacy. The parliament elected Gul in the third round of voting on August 28. President Gul approved Erdogan's proposed cabinet on August 30, and the new government received a vote of confidence on September 5.


Principal Government Officials
President of the Republic--Abdullah Gul
Prime Minister--Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Ali Babacan
Ambassador to the United States--Nabi Sensoy
Ambassador to the United Nations--Umit Pamir


Turkey maintains an embassy in the United States at 2525 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 612-6700. Consulates general in Chicago (360 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1405, Chicago, IL 60601, tel: 312-263-0644, ext. 28); Los Angeles (4801 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 310, Los Angeles, CA 90010, tel: 323-937-0118); New York (821 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, tel: 212-949-0160); and Houston (1990 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 1300, Houston, TX 77056, tel: 713-622-5849). The Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations is located on 821 United Nations Plaza, 10th floor, New York, NY 10017, tel: 212-949-0150.


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Turkish Lira Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions
Turkish Lira Exchange Rates


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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