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1982 Constitution

The third constitution of the Republic of Turkey, in effect today, was adopted in 1982. 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. According to the 1982 Constitution, unconditional and unrestricted sovereignty is vested in the nation. It has been stipulated that the Turkish Grand National Assembly [TGNA] can convene with one-third of the total number of members to prevent parliamentary deadlocks. The TGNA can make decisions with an absolute majority of those present; however, the quorum for decisions can, under no circumstances, be less than a quarter plus one of the total number of members. The fundamental change in the legislature by the 1982 Constitution was the abolition of the Senate of the Republic. While executive functions are carried out by the President of the Republic and the Council of Ministers, judicial power is exercised by independent courts. Article 2 of the Constitution describes the Republic as a democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law.

The Constitution states that all Turkish citizens are united in national honor and pride, national joy and grief, their rights and duties towards the national entity, blessings and burdens, and in every manifestation of national life. The Constitution stipulates that the Republic of Turkey is committed to the nationalism of Atatrk. It also states that the Turkish State is an indivisible whole with its territory and nation. Democracy is obtained and preserved through state administration's adherence to law which limits the legislative and executive powers and provides a balance between the three powers.

Judicial review of administrative acts and the constitutionality of the laws are considered sine qua non for the rule of law. Further safeguards for the rule of law in the 1982 Constitution are the nonretroactivity of criminal laws, the legal judicial process and the prohibition of the denial of justice. Furthermore, the hierarchy of norms was adopted, preventing the lowernorms from being violated by the uppernorms. Constitutional Court decisions are binding for the legislative, executive and judicial branches, the government, all real persons and corporate bodies.

In addition, the 1982 Constitution recognizes all basic human rights such as freedom of speech, press, communications, travel, right to privacy, right to property. The fundamental social rights recognized by the Constitution are the right to organize unions, the right to strike and to collective bargaining, the right to social security, the right to education and the right to medical care.

Legislative authority is vested in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA). The TGNA is composed of 550 deputies. Parliamentary elections are held every five years. Deputies represent the entire nation and before assuming office, take an oath, the text of which is included in the Constitution. The duties and authority of the TGNA are outlined as follows: to adopt, amend and abrogate laws, to supervise the Council of Ministers and ministers, to give authority to the Council of Ministers to pass decrees with the power of law, to adopt the budget and final account draft laws, to ratify the printing or minting of currency, to make decisions for declaring war, martial law or emergency rule, to approve the signing of international agreements and to make decisions for declaring general or special amnesties.

The Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) enacted the most comprehensive amendments to the Constitution on October 3 since it was drafted on November 7, 1982. With this amendment package, covering 34 articles, the Constitution was revised extensively in an effort to extend basic rights and freedoms, re-regulate social and economic life. The amendments went into effect after they were published in the Official Gazette on October 17.




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