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Analysis: Politics in Turkey since 1923

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JULY 25: People gather to protest against Parallel State/Gulenist Terrorist Organization's failed military coup attempt at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey on July 25, 2016. Parallel State is a terrorist organization leaded by U.S.-based cleric Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through infiltrating into Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary, forming a parallel state. (Abdullah Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JULY 25: People gather to protest against Parallel State/Gulenist Terrorist Organization's failed military coup attempt at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey on July 25, 2016. Parallel State is a terrorist organization leaded by U.S.-based cleric Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through infiltrating into Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary, forming a parallel state. (Abdullah Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The political system in Turkey and the amendments in the constitution has been a long history that can be traced back to 19th c. when Sultan Abdulhamit II introduced the first constitution also known as ‘Kanun-I-Esasi’ in 1876 in then-Ottoman Empire. The important part of the development in constitution was to introduce Legislative and General Assembly. The constitution was based on Islamic principles which were its soul. It also defined ottoman as a state rather nation.

Post-WWI and Constitution 1921:
In the post-World War I, the period of “National Liberation” is seen as the full of constitutional improvements. Thus Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (father of modern turkey) authorized the election of new parliament and established new government in Ankara far from ottoman capital Istanbul. The new assembly was known as “Turkish Grand National Assembly which had legislative and executive power. This grand national assembly dates back to 1921. It was the period of two institutions simultaneously: the Ottoman Constitution 1876 and the Constitution 1921 promulgated by the Ankara-based government. In 1922, with the abolition of Ottoman Sultanate the first constitution was also abrogated. Subsequently, the modern Turkish Republic was officially proclaimed in October 1923 under the presidency of Mustafa Kemal.

Therefore, the political system has been evolved since its proclamation to the presence as recently the country has been transformed from parliamentary republic system to executive presidential system.

Constitution 1924:
The constitution of the Republic of Turkey was newly adopted in 1924 replacing the previous one representing a more centralist unitary state model afterwards. This period is also referred as Kemalist/Ataturk Reformation/Revolutionary etc. The new constitution was drafted by all powers in the unicameral legislature which was totally dominated by a single party rather than offering any guarantee of fundamental rights or liberties. In 1937, the country had been announced as a secular republic with an amendment to remove the state religion.

Coup 1960 and New Constitution:
Turkey has also faced several military coups in previous decades that have led to reshape the political system of modern Turkey from time to time. For ex. the coup d’etat of May 1960 (first of its-kind in Modern Turkey) in the country was followed by the great change in Turkey’s political life leading to dissolve its grand assembly and imprisonment of then-PM Adnan Menderes and president Celal Bayar. Following the coup, the new committee was established to rule the country and the executive power was exercised by the committee. This coup led to establish the new sort of constitution also referred sometime the Constitution of 1961. Under which a bicameral parliament consisting of the Senate and National Assembly took place. This constitution remained into effect until 1980s with several amendments time to time.

Military Coup 1980 & Constitution 1982:
The country had seen the third military coup in September 1980 which was followed later developments in the politics of the Turkey. The coup has led to suspend the previous constitution banning the political parties and all the leaders were detained. The then-PM Suleiman Demirel was dismissed. Later, following the constitutional referendum the presidential election took place. Under the new development, the National Security Council was established which would be able to make the regime run indefinitely. The constitution had been amended several times particularly in 2001 that changed 34 articles of the constitution completely. However, 2010 amendment was considered the last amendment in 1982 Constitution.

Failed coup d’etat July 2016:
The 15 July 2016 coup d’état was a very recent attempt to topple the Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership that got failure. But it led to kill more than 300 people and the injuries passed over 2100. The bloodiest coup of July 2016 is seen as pre-planned while the religious scholar exile in US, Fethullah Gülen had been accused to stir up the military. This failed attempt allowed the government to open crackdown against the offenders, and consequently thousands had to go behind the bar and under custody including ex-army generals, media reporters and opposite leaders. This failure led President Erdogan to be stringent more firmly.

The Presidential System:
The debate had been remained ongoing on the present constitution (1982) until the 2017 referendum for presidential system to replace the parliamentary system, invited by the current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of AKP. The new Presidential System came into effect in July 2018 giving the new shape to Turkish constitution.

The new system leads to i) abolish prime ministry ii) introduce an executive iii) assign unspecified Vice presidents by the president iv) give full authority to president to appoint the majority of judiciary. The new Presidential System will also have term of five years and will be able to remain the leader of the party. President can also appoint the head of army and intelligence agencies and so on.

Conclusively, the presidential system is the most recent and onging political system of the Turkey that strengthens the President role and makes the president the head of state. It is being criticised to be an authoritarian type of regime but ostensibly it is the current module of the Modern Turkey.

(THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR’S OWN AND DO NOT REFLECT THE OPINIONS OR VIEWS OF THE RATIONAL DAILY IN ANY MANNER.)

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Written by MOHAMMAD MUJTABA

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