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Turkey: The Constitutional System
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > The Constitutional System


The government of Turkey functions in accordance with the constitution of 1982, which was drafted and adopted during the period of military rule following the September 1980 coup. The National Security Council (NSC -- see Glossary), composed of the commanders of the army, navy, air force, and gendarmerie, and headed by the president, established a Consultative Assembly in June 1981 to draft a new constitution. This assembly consisted of 160 members, forty of whom were appointed directly by the NSC and the remaining 120 selected from a list of about 10,000 names compiled with the aid of provincial governors. In July 1982, a fifteen-member constitutional committee of the Consultative Assembly produced a draft that subsequently was amended by the Consultative Assembly and the NSC. The constitution was submitted to a public referendum on November 7 and approved by 91.4 percent of the voters; 91.3 percent of the registered electorate cast ballots. A factor in this high turnout was Provisional Article 16 of the constitution, which stipulated that registered voters who failed to vote would lose their electoral rights for five years.

The 1982 constitution replaced the constitution of 1961, which also had been drafted following a military coup. Under the 1961 constitution, an elaborate system of checks and balances had limited the authority of the government; the powers of the president were curtailed, and individual rights and liberties were given greater emphasis. In contrast, the 1982 constitution expands the authority of the president and circumscribes the exercise of individual and associational rights. The 1982 constitution also limits the role and influence of political parties, which are governed by more detailed and restrictive regulations than under the 1961 document. For example, political parties are required to obtain a minimum percentage of the total vote cast before any candidates on their lists can qualify for seats in the National Assembly. The 1982 constitution also provides for the enactment of electoral laws to regulate the formation of parties and the rules for their participation in elections.

Last Updated: January 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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