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. Shortly after 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 eligible 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 part 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 referenda are held freely and through secret voting 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.
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:
- In cases where a new Council of Ministers cannot be formed or receive a vote of confidence within forty-five days after the Council of Ministers fails to receive a vote of confidence or is compelled to resign by a vote of no-confidence, as a result of a motion for interpellation of cabinet request for a vote of confidence.
- If a new Council of Ministers cannot be formed within forty-five days after the resignation of the Prime Minister even if not defeated by a vote of confidence.
- If a new Council of Ministers cannot be formed with forty-five days after the elections for the Bureau of the President of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.
Under these circumstances, the President upon consulting the TGNA Speaker, may call new elections.
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 carries 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.
Basic Data Regarding the 2002 General (Parliamentary) Elections in Turkey
|Number of registered voters||41,436,437|
|Number of votes cast||32,668,481|
|Number of valid votes||31,398,057|
|Name of Party||Votes Gained||Percentage of Votes||Seats in the Parliament|
|AK Parti (Justice and Development Party)||10,804,458||34.41||365|
|CHP (The Republican People's Party)||6,096,488||19.42||177|
|DYP (True Path Party)||2,997,065||9.55|
|MHP (Nationalist Action Party)||2,613,936||8.33|
|GP (Young Party)||2,275,855||7.25|
|DEHAP (Democratic People's Party)||1,929,004||6.14|
|ANAP (Motherland Party)||1,601,322||5.10|
|SP (Happiness Party)||779,934||2.48|
|DSP (Democratic Left Party)||385,714||1.23|
|YTP (New Turkey Party)||360,678||1.15|
|BBP (Great Unity Party)||319,622||1.02|
|YP (Homeland Party)||294,167||0.94|
|IP (Worker's Party)||162,908||0.52|
|BTP (Independent Turkey Party)||149,445||0.48|
|ODP (Freedom and Solidarity Party)||105,849||0.34|
|LDP (Liberal Democratic Party)||89,503||0.29|
|MP (Nation Party)||69,340||0.22|
|TKP (Turkish Communist Party)||60,410||0.19|
Current Breakdown of Seats in the Turkish Grand National Assembly as of December 2005
|Name of Party||Number of Seats|
|AK Parti (Justice and Development Party)||357|
|CHP (People's Republican Party)||154|
|ANAP (Motherland Party)||22|
|DYP (True Path Party)||4|
|SHP (Social Democrat People's Party)||4|
|HYP (The Rise of People Party)||1|
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