The Turkish Constitution is the document that defines the basic rules of the Turkish Republic, the system of government, the form of the state, and the authorities in general.
Turkey’s constitution is the cornerstone of laws and legislation, as it defines the rights and duties of citizens in 177 articles and 21 temporary articles.
About the constitution in Turkey
The current constitution in force in Turkey is the 1982 constitution, which was prepared after the September 12 military coup.
The current Turkish constitution has been adopted on October 18, 1982, and has so far been amended 21 times.
The Turkish constitution prohibits amending the first three articles, which clarify the form of the state, what it is, the official language, the flag, and the capital.
History of the Turkish Constitution
The Turkish Constitution of 1921
The first Turkish constitution in the history of the republic appeared in 1921 under the name “Main Formations and Laws”, and it was continued until 1924.
The Turkish Constitution of 1921 was prepared by the Grand National Assembly, which was elected after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
The purpose of the constitution is to enshrine the principle of popular sovereignty, as it stipulates that sovereignty comes from the people and not from the Sultan.
The 1921 Constitution is a relatively short text as it consists of twenty-three articles, the first nine articles that define the principles on which the country will be founded.
Turkish constitution 1924
After the proclamation of the Turkish Republic, the 1924 constitution was drawn up, which lasted for 36 years until the 1961 coup.
The 1924 Constitution witnessed a number of important amendments, most notably the abolition of the statement that the state religion is Islam in 1928, women’s suffrage right, and the introduction of the principle of state secularism in 1927.
The outlines from the 1924 constitution made it clear that Turkey is a republican, nationalist, secular, populist and revolutionary state.
The 1924 constitution was abolished after the military coup in 1960 that overthrew the President of the Republic, Celal Bayar, and the Prime Minister, Adnan Menderes.
The Constitution of 1961
The 1961 constitution was adopted after the military coup, when a constitutional committee of 20 members within the framework of the Constituent Assembly prepared the new constitution.
The Turkish Constitution of 1961 was put to a referendum to be accepted by a rate of 60.4%, as it is is the first constitution to be approved by popular referendum in Turkey.
Several important points were decided in the constitution, most notably the separation of the President of the Republic from his party, ensuring the independence of the judiciary, granting workers the right to form trade unions and striking, stipulating the independence of universities, radio and television, granting the right to protest without prior permission, and abolishing the possibility of dismissing senior officials Without a warrant.
The 1961 constitution was terminated after the 1981 coup led by General Kenan Evren against Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan.
The content of the Turkish constitution
Introduction to the Constitution
The preamble to the constitution in Turkey states the following: Affirming the eternal existence of the Turkish Motherland and Nation and the indivisible unity of the Sublime Turkish State, this Constitution, in line with the concept of nationalism introduced by the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Atatürk, the immortal leader and the unrivalled hero, and his reforms and principles; Determining to attain the everlasting existence, prosperity, material and spiritual wellbeing of the Republic of Turkey, and the standards of contemporary civilization as an honourable member with equal rights of the family of world nations; The absolute supremacy of the will of the nation, the fact that sovereignty is vested fully and unconditionally in the Turkish Nation and that no individual or body empowered to exercise this sovereignty in the name of the nation shall deviate from the liberal democracy indicated in the Constitution and the legal system instituted according to its requirements, The separation of powers, which does not imply an order of precedence among the organs of the State, but refers solely to the exercising of certain state powers and discharging of duties, and is limited to a civilized cooperation and division of functions; and the fact that only the Constitution and the laws have the supremacy; That no protection shall be accorded to an activity contrary to Turkish national interests, Turkish existence and the principle of its indivisibility with its State and territory, historical and moral values of Turkishness; the nationalism, principles, reforms and civilizationism of Atatürk and that sacred religious feelings shall absolutely not be involved in state affairs and politics as required by the principle of secularism; That every Turkish citizen has an innate right and power, to lead an honourable life and to improve his/her material and spiritual wellbeing under the aegis of national culture, civilization, and the rule of law, through the exercise of the fundamental rights and freedoms set forth in this Constitution, in conformity with the requirements of equality and social justice; That all Turkish citizens are united in national honour and pride, in national joy and grief, in their rights and duties regarding national existence, in blessings and in burdens, and in every manifestation of national life, and that they have the right to demand a peaceful life based on absolute respect for one another’s rights and freedoms, mutual love and fellowship, and the desire for and belief in “Peace at home; peace in the world”; With these IDEAS, BELIEFS, and RESOLUTIONS to be interpreted and implemented accordingly, thus commanding respect for, and absolute loyalty to, its letter and spirit; Has been entrusted by the TURKISH NATION to the democracy-loving Turkish sons’ and daughters’ love for the motherland and nation.
Some important articles in the constitution
The Turkish constitution contains some important articles which state:
Article one :
The State of Turkey is a Republic
The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state governed
by rule of law, within the notions of public peace, national solidarity and justice, respecting
human rights, loyal to the nationalism of Atatürk, and based on the fundamental tenets set forth
in the preamble.
The State of Turkey, with its territory and nation, is an indivisible entity.
Its language is Turkish.
Its flag, the form of which is prescribed by the relevant law, is composed of a white
crescent and star on a red background.
Its national anthem is the “Independence March”.
Its capital is Ankara.
The provision of Article 1 regarding the form of the State being a
Republic, the characteristics of the Republic in Article 2, and the provisions of Article 3 shall
not be amended, nor shall their amendment be proposed.
You can read a full translation of the Turkish constitution in English by clicking here.
Turkish Constitutional Court
The Constitutional Court is the highest legal body for constitutional review in Turkey. As it works on examining the constitutionality of laws, in terms of form and content, and decrees that have the force of law.
The Turkish Constitutional Court also functions as a higher criminal court, to hear any cases raised about the president, vice president, members of the cabinet, or judges of higher courts.
How can the Turkish constitution be amended?
To amend the Turkish constitution, at least one-third of the members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly must approve, then the proposed amendments are discussed twice and then a secret vote is held, requiring three-fifths of the total parliament members to be amended.