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Turkey is a constitutional republic, with a parliamentary system of government.  The Turkish Constitution was proclaimed on 7 November 1982 and was last amended on 23 July 1995 (hereinafter “Constitution” or “TC”) and it establishes a democratic, secular, parliamentary form of government with a strong presidency.  The preamble enshrines the principle of separation of powers and enunciates, amongst others that no protection will be accorded to thoughts or opinions contrary to the national interests of Turkey, Turkish historical and moral values or the principles, reforms and modernism of Ataturk.  The preamble also establishes the principle of secularism, whereby there is to be no interference whatsoever of sacred religious feelings in state affairs and politics. Fundamental rights, individual rights and duties are contained in the First and Second Chapter of the Second Part of the Constitution.  Political rights and duties listed in the Fourth Chapter.


The President is the Head of Stateand pursuant to Article 101 of the Constitution the Turkish Grand National Assembly (parliament) elects him or her for a term of seven years.  The President is elected by an absolute majority of deputies by way of secret ballot (Art. 102 TC). The President may not be reelected.

Legislative power is exercised by a 550-member parliament (“Grand National Assembly”) elected every five years on the basis of universal suffrage (Art.75, as amended and Art.77 TC).  In order to participate in the distribution of seats a political party must obtain at least 10 per cent of votes cast at a national level, as well as a certain percentage of votes in the contested district, which percentage is calculated by means of a complex formula.  The purpose of the afore described double threshold is to reduce the number of smaller parties in parliament, thus in turn reducing the likelihood of coalition governments.    

Executive power is shared by and between the President and the Council of Ministers led by the Prime Minister.  The President is vested with extensive powers of appointment and supervision.  The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are responsible to the Parliament.  In accordance with Art.109 of the Constitution, the Prime Minister is appointed by the President of Turkey from amongst the members of parliament.  The ministers are nominated by the Prime Minister and appointed by parliament. 

A special body called the State Supervisory Council comes within the composition of the executive.  It is established by Art.108 of the Constitution and is attached to the Office of the Presidency of the Republic.  Upon the request of the President, it is empowered to conduct all inquiries, investigations and inspections of all public bodies and organizations, all enterprises in which those public bodies and organizations share more than half of the capital, public professional organizations, employers’ associations and labour unions at all levels, and public benefit associations and foundations.  However, the Armed Forces and the judiciary are not within the ambit of State Supervisory Counci's mandate.

Part three of the Constitution outlines the legislative process.  Article 7 and 87 of the Constitution confer power on the parliament to enact, amend and repeal laws. The right of legislative initiative belongs to the parliament and the Council of Ministers (Art 88 TC).  Whereas, the principles and procedure relating to the debating and drafting of bills and proposals of law in the Turkish Grand National Assembly, are regulated by Rules of Procedure (Art. 88 TC).  According to Art.89 of the Constitution the President of the Republic is under the obligation to promulgate the laws adopted by parliament within fifteen days. The same article of the Constitution goes on to state that in the case that the President deems the law unfit for promulgation he or she may return it to parliament for further consideration together with a justification for the return (also within the fifteen day period).  If the parliament adopts the returned bill in an unchanged form, the President is obliged to promulgate it.  On the other hand, if the parliament amends the returned law, it may again be sent back by the President for further consideration.  This procedure does not apply to the passing of bills concerning the budget, nor amendments to the Constitution. By virtue of Art.91, parliament may also empower the Council of Ministers to adopt decrees having the force of law.  However, the fundamental rights, individual rights and duties encompassed by the First and Second Chapter of the Second Part of the Constitution and the political rights and duties listed in the Fourth Chapter cannot be regulated, amended or abolished by these types of decrees except during periods of martial law and states of emergency.  States of emergency are declared by the Council of Ministers, under the chairmanship of the President and in consultation with the National Security Council and may not exceed the period of six months (Art. 120 TC). Decrees with the force of law enter into force on the day of their publication in the Official Gazette (Art. 91 TC).

Judicial power is exercised by the courts. The judicial system comprises of a Constitutional Court which is responsible for judicial review of legislation and the Rules of Procedure of the parliament (Art. 148 TC), a Council of State serving as the high administrative and appeals court (Art. 155 TC), and the Accounts and Military Court of Appeal (Art. 156 TC).  Supervision over the judiciary is performed by th High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, appointed by the President of the State.

The creation of the Turkish legal system dates back to the 14th Century, from which time until 1839 it was based purely on Islamic law and administered by religious courts throughout the then Ottoman empire.  Commencing 1839 , the second period of creation began and in 1851 a compilation of laws and regulation began to be enacted, including the Charter of Gulhane and Ferman of Reforms and other laws and regulations deriving from European and, in particular, French legal systems. Following the declaration of the Turkish Republic in 1923, new concepts were integrated into the legal system, leading to their westernisation and the establishment of a secular state. The Turkish Civil Code was adopted in 1926 from Switzerland, with minor modifications. The Turkish Criminal Code was adopted from the 1899 Italian Penal Code and the Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure was adopted from Germany.  Switzerland became the source of most Turkish laws (including the Turkish Code of Obligations, the Turkish Code of Civil Procedure and Turkish Code of Execution and Bankruptcy). Consequently, with the enactment of these laws, drawn mainly from European civil law systems, Turkey became and to date remains a civil law jurisdiction.


Turkey is:

  • OSCE Participating State since 25 June 1973
  • Member State of the United Nations since 24 October 1945
  • Member State of the Council of Europe since 9 August 1949
  • Candidate Country for Membership in the European Union since December 1999

Status of Ratification of the Main International Human Rights Treaties, Conventions and other instruments

01 August 2007
European Social Charter (revised) (1999)
09 November 2006
UN Convention against Corruption (2003)
01 June 2006
Protocol No.13 to the ECHR concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances (2003)

Legal Reviews

Joint Opinion on Amendments to the Electoral Legislation of Turkey and Related 'Harmonisation Laws' Adopted in March and April 2018 (in English)

Date : 17 December 2018 English [0.35 MB]