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Turkey Politics

State and politics

Political System of Turkey PoliticsSince the controversial constitutional amendments were introduced in 2018, the constitution gives significant powers to the president. As the country's head of state, he can dissolve parliament, announce new elections and issue emergency permits. The president also appoints the prime minister and senior judges as well as the management of the Riksbank and the state broadcasting company. The President is elected by Parliament for five years. Members of Parliament are elected in general elections for five years.

Kemal Atat邦rk's vision of the secular, western state is challenged in modern Turkey by political parties working to preserve traditional Islamic-Turkish culture. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how TR can stand for Turkey.

The political party that dominated Turkish politics in the 21st century, the Justice and Development Party, the AKP, led by its founder Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was from the outset an antithesis to the influence of the army and represented a movement away from secularism. During the 2010s, the AKP acted increasingly authoritarian, which resulted in the erosion of democracy.

Political System of Turkey

GOVERNMENT

On April 16, 2017, a referendum was held, which by a small margin approved the proposal to introduce presidential government. Just over 51 percent of voters voted for the proposal and just under 49 percent voted against. Participation was high, around 85 percent.

The constitutional changes that were approved had an impact in the subsequent elections on June 24, 2018, which meant that Erdogan became both head of state and head of government. Through the constitutional changes, the balance between executive, legislative and judicial power, which was regulated in the previous constitution of 1982, has tipped into a system that gives the president very far-reaching powers.

In effect, the constitutional amendments mean that the president can appoint senior managers in the administration, all ministers and one or more vice presidents. The President can dissolve Parliament, but Parliament can also demand fresh elections and Parliament retains its power over the legislation. The president can be re-elected once.

The post of Prime Minister was abolished with the constitutional amendments. The President is elected at the same time as Parliament for a period of five years. If no candidate receives an absolute majority, a second round is held with the two strongest candidates.

In the 1982 Constitution, the National Security Council, then dominated by military, had a central role in the center of power. This has gradually been loosened up as the civilian government increased its influence over the army. The National Security Council is led by the President, who is also Commander-in-Chief, and has a majority of civilian members (2020). At the same time, the Council's role is more limited; the president can decide on his own that emergency permits should be introduced in the country.

The constitutional changes meant that Parliament's function was postponed in the direction of getting more of the character of a government advisory body. At the same time as Parliament retains its basic, legislative power, it has become more difficult to oust the president or overthrow the government through a vote of no confidence. By vetoing, the president can stop Parliament's bill. However, the veto can be lifted by Parliament. Parliament may also amend the constitution, but such a resolution requires a two-thirds majority and the president may require the amendments to be approved in a referendum.

Through the constitutional changes, the number of MPs was increased from 550 to 600. The term of office is five years and coincides with the presidential mandate. The parties must receive more than 10 percent of the vote in order to be represented in Parliament. The fact that the barrier is high is based on the fact that there are a large number of registered political parties, at the 2018 election some 80s.

Of the 600 members, 104 are women and 496 are men (2020). Full voting rights for women were introduced in 1934 and women have been in parliament since 1935.

Municipal elections are held every five years but follow a different timetable. The most recent elections were held on March 31, 2019.

Policy

The party leaders have great influence and the party system is strongly divided. During the 1990s several parties were banned, which then emerged in new costume. With the exception of the largest party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is a center-right party based on religious values, the parties lack broad basic organizations.

The June 2015 parliamentary elections were seen by many as one of Turkey's most important in modern times and as a value gauge for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's proposal for constitutional change. However, the outcome was a staggering defeat for Erdoğan and the AKP. From having received more than 50 percent of the vote in the 2010 election and own parliamentary majority, the AKP now received only 40.9 percent (258 seats).

The major winner of the election became the pro-Kurdish Left Party People's Democratic Party (HDP), which for the first time passed the ten percent barrier. The HDP, which received its support mainly among the Kurdish Allevites both in the big cities and in eastern Turkey, opposed a constitutional change.

HDP also highlighted women and LGBT issues, which made the party attractive among young Alevites and other secular youth. Even the secular Republican People's Party (CHP, once formed by Kemal Atat邦rk) and the ultra-conservative National Action Party (MHP) opposed the AKP's proposed amendment to the Constitution. These parties are the second largest and third largest party in Turkey, respectively. In addition to the above-mentioned lots, there are a number of small lots. None of these, however, passed the ten per cent block and thus received no representation in Parliament.

In addition to the fear that the AKP would enforce a constitutional change, there were several factors that could explain the AKP's race, namely widespread corruption, voters' concerns about the economy and a Syria policy that failed. In addition, there were criticisms of Erdogan's increasingly powerful government and attempts to silence its political opponents.

Two months after the election, the government negotiations were stranded and President Erdoğan announced new elections until November 1, 2015. In this, the AKP went ahead and won its own majority with 58 percent of the seats in parliament. The reversal was preceded by a severely deteriorating security situation in the country. More than 100 people had been killed in a terror attack in Ankara on October 10, 2015. Prior to that, the peace talks between the government and the PKK had broken down and the armed struggle resumed in the south-eastern parts of the country.

Erdoğan's ambition to push through the controversial constitutional change intensified in 2017. The AKP then presented the reform that was voted through in Parliament and then signed by the President to be included in a referendum in April of that year. The vote was preceded by intense campaigns through official channels where Erdoğan's supporters argued that the constitutional changes were equal to the stability of the country and not at all, as critics thought, had anything to do with one-man rule or the erosion of fundamental freedoms and rights. The issue of amending the constitution to further expand the power of the president came to be a water divider in the already divided country. This was reflected in the very small majority voting for the reform.

In the combined parliamentary and presidential elections held in 2018, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and AKP won in the first round of elections. Erdoğan thus became the first president to govern the country under the changing constitution.

The results in the municipal elections in 2019 showed that the image of Erdoğan as the country's undisputed leader began to crack. The AKP, which in many places appeared in alliance with the MHP, lost control of both Ankara and Istanbul. The municipal elections can be seen as an indication of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, to be held no later than June 24, 2023.

International relations

Turkey belongs to the circle of countries that founded the UN, the OECD and the OSCE. Turkey has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1949 and since 1952 in NATO.

Negotiations for EU membership began in autumn 2005, but relations between the EU and Turkey continue to be complicated. The EU calls for Turkey to act as a gatekeeper and prevent refugees from accessing the EU via Turkey, which is one of the main escape routes into Europe. The EU also demands that Turkey repatriate refugees who have come to Greece. For these measures, Turkey will receive a substantial financial contribution of EUR 6 billion. See EU-Turkey Agreement. The counterclaim from Turkey is that the EU should immediately give Turkish citizens visa-free access to the EU. However, this is complicated by Turkey's restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of expression and other democratic rights, which have been criticized by the Union. Opportunities for progress in membership negotiations have been impaired by, among other things, these measures. Turkey's invasion of northern Syria in 2019 has subsequently contributed to the negotiations being completely on ice.

Judiciary

The judiciary is structured according to a secular, western model. The Constitutional Court consists of 15 judges. Of these, three are appointed by Parliament and 12 by the President. The term of office for a judge is 12 years, with no possibility of extension, and the mandatory retirement age is 65 years. The Court of Appeal, which is the highest court in general cases, comprises about 390 judges and is divided into sections for criminal cases and civil cases.

Paragraph 301 of the Turkish Penal Code was introduced in 2005 and made it a crime to insult "Turkish". It has been used to prosecute writers and journalists, especially in connection with their statements about the Armenian genocide of 1915-17, which has never officially been recognized as such by the Turkish regime.

Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink (1954-2007) was facing trial in accordance with this section when he was assassinated by Turkish nationalists in January 2007. After the assassination, the section was modified in 2008 to refer to derogatory statements about the Turkish nation. However, international criticism, including the European Court of Justice, remains directed against the provision which is deemed to violate freedom of expression.

Military courts were abolished in 2017.

The death penalty for crimes of peacetime was abolished in 2002 as part of Turkey's approach to the EU; the last execution was carried out in 1984.

Human Rights

Although human rights, including social benefits, are guaranteed by Turkish legislation, these have been eroded during the 2010s, not least during the 2016-18 state of emergency and after the constitutional amendment 2018 (see State law and policy).

Turkey has been criticized by the European Parliament, among others, for lack of respect for human rights because of the government's crackdown on media and the arrest of suspected opponents, including Kurdish politicians.

Following the state of emergency, a law on terrorism was introduced which allows those arrested to be detained for up to 12 days. Opposition parties have become more difficult to operate and a number of government-critical media have been forced to close down their operations. In 2019, Turkey was ranked 157 out of 180 in Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.

The rule of law shows major shortcomings. People are held captive for long periods without trial and without clarifying the charges against them. Impunity exists for public figures or members of the security forces. Accusations of torture or other abuses, especially the detention, are left without action.

Violence against women, including so-called honor killings, is a significant problem, as is the presence of child marriage. Wife trafficking is not prohibited or defined in the legislative text, but in 2013 Turkey ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and Control of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. LGBTQ people are subjected to a great deal of discrimination as well as violence.

Turkey's Roma (estimated at just over 2 million) have limited access to education, health care and housing.

Heads of State

Sultans 1
about 1300 - about 1326 Osman I
about 1326 - about 1360 Orhan
about 1360-89 Murad I
1389-1402 Beyazite I
1402-21 Mehmet I Çelebi 2
1402-1403 or 1404 İsa Çelebi 3
1402-11 S邦leyman Çelebi 4
1409-13 Musa Çelebi 4
1421-44 Murad II
1444-46 Mehmet II (Conqueror)
1446-51 Murad II
1451-81 Mehmet II
1481-1512 Beyazite II
1512-20 Selim I
1520-66 S邦leyman I (the Great)
1566-74 Selim II
1574-95 Murad III
1595-1603 Mehmet III
1603-17 Ahmed I
1617-18 Mustafa I
1618-22 Osman II
1622-23 Mustafa I
1623-40 Murad IV
1640-48 İbrahim I
1648-87 Mehmet IV
1687-91 S邦leyman II
1691-95 Ahmed II
1695-1703 Mustafa II
1703-30 Ahmed III
1730-54 Mahmud I
1754-57 Osman III
1757-74 Mustafa III
1774-89 Abdulhamid I
1789-1807 Selim III
1807-08 Mustafa IV
1808-39 Mahmud II
1839-61 Abd邦lmecid I
1861-76 Abd邦laziz
1876 Murad V
1876-1909 Abdulhamid II
1909-18 Mehmet V
1918-22 Mehmet VI
presidents
1923-38 Mustafa Kemal (Kemal Atat邦rk)
1938-50 İsmet İnön邦
1950-60 Celâl Bayar
1960-66 Kemal G邦rsel 5
1966-73 Cevdet Sunay
1973-80 Fahri Korut邦rk
1980 İhsan Sabri Çağlayangil
1980-89 Kenan Evren 6
1989-93 Turgut Özal
1993-2000 S邦leyman Demirel
2000-07 Ahmet Necdet Sezer
2007-14 Abdullah G邦l
2014- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

1 The title of sultan is first invented in 1383.
2 After Beyazit I was captured by the Mongols in 1402, the Ottoman Empire was divided between his sons. In the ensuing power struggle in 1413, the ruler of Anatolia, Mehmet I Çelebi, triumphed.
3 Rulers in Bursa.
4 Rulers in Romania.
5 From 1960 to 61 Kemal G邦rsel was the leader of a military government (chairman of the National Unity Committee).
6 Kenan Evren chaired the National Security Council in 1980-89. He was elected President in 1982.

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