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Turkey government : central government
Photographic Book Turkey

Legislative power rests in the National Assembly, a 550-member unicameral body. Members are elected by popular vote to five-year terms under a system of proportional representation. Political parties must receive at least 10 percent of the vote to gain representation in the assembly. Extremist parties are banned, as are parties promoting religious causes. All citizens aged 18 or older are entitled to vote.

Central and local governments of Turkey

The constitution divides executive power between the prime minister and the president. The head of government is the prime minister, who represents the majority party or coalition in parliament. The prime minister selects a cabinet, called the Council of Ministers, and is responsible for carrying out government policy. The president, as head of state, is chosen by parliament for a seven-year term. The president’s executive powers are substantial. They include the authority to dissolve parliament, to approve the prime minister, to veto legislation or to propose legislative changes, to ask the constitutional court to rule on the constitutionality of legislation, and to submit constitutional amendments to the people in popular referenda

For administrative purposes, Turkey is divided into 81 provinces, called vilayets. Each province is governed by a provincial governor, who is appointed by the central government and is responsible to the minister of the interior. The provinces are divided into counties, which are in turn divided into districts. There are also locally elected assemblies at the province, county, district levels.

The old Ottoman laws that were based on Islamic religious law, the Sharia, were gradually abolished in modern Turkey. The religious courts were suppressed in 1924, and the constitution announced that year guaranteed independence to Turkey’s remaining courts.

Istanbul mosque picture
Istanbul mosque picture. Photo by E. Buchot
The judicial system consists of courts of justices of the peace, with jurisdiction over some criminal and civil matters; courts of first instance, with wider powers; central criminal courts, which hear serious criminal cases; commercial courts; and a court of cassation, the highest court, which serves as a court of appeal. The 1982 constitution provided for a constitutional court to determine the constitutionality of laws passed by parliament; judges to the court are appointed by the president. Turkey’s legal codes are largely adapted from European codes, especially the Swiss civil, the Italian penal, and the German commercial codes. Encarta
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