THE LEGAL STATUS OF TURKISH PARLIAMENT IN THE LIGHT OF THE FIRST TURKISH CONSTITUTIONAL ACTS
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The analysis of the Turkish constitutional acts from the 1920-1924 period shows beyond doubt that the purpose of the political system reform in Turkey was to establish a democratic constitutional order. The culmination of the institutional reform process was adoption of the Constitution in 1924 which retained most of the basic principles of the 1921 Constitutional Act, notably the principle of national sovereignty. The Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) was considered, as it was in the said act of 1921, 'the sole representative of the nation, on whose behalf it exercises the rights of sovereignty' (Article 4). Both legislative and executive powers were concentrated in the Assembly (Article 5), but the Assembly was to exercise its executive authority through the President of the Republic elected by it and the Council of Ministers appointed by the President (Article 7). The Assembly could at any time control the Council of Ministers and dismiss it, while the Council had no power to dissolve the Assembly to hold new elections. The belief in legislative supremacy was so deeply entrenched and emotionally held during the years of the First TGNA (1920-1923) that, in the course of the debates on the Constitution, the Assembly rejected or modified many proposals favouring a somewhat stronger executive. For example, the draft Constitution prepared by the Constitutional Committee gave the President of the Republic, apparently with the blessings of Mustafa Kemal himself, the power to dissolve the Assembly and to veto bills. Such a veto could be overridden by a majority of two thirds. In the end, the Assembly rejected the entire article on dissolution, and the veto power was restricted in such a way that the President's objection could be overridden by a simple majority. Consequently, the constitutional status of the President of the Republic was very weak. Due to the provisions of the 1924 Constitution, the Parliament was to be elected by Turkish citizens. Among freedoms and rights it listed e.g. the right to vote in the election of Turkish deputies and the right to be elected deputy, reserved for men who reached 18 and 30 years respectively, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of press and freedom of public meetings and association. The 1924 Constitution was undoubtedly democratic in spirit. It had many disadvantages however. The political system it introduced was not a parliamentary government where powers are, to some extent, separated from each other. The authors of the Constitution chose an 'assembly government' model based on the unity or concentration of the legislative and executive powers. This simple model of democracy was distinctly visible in many provisions of the 1924 Constitution. Its creation of an all-powerful Assembly, its somewhat emotional and unnecessary distrust of the executive, its insufficient safeguards for the independence of the judiciary, and its failure to institute formal restraints on the legislative power, notably the lack of a judicial mechanism for reviewing the constitutionality of laws, could make the political system unstable in practice. The rights granted by the Constitution were relative because of the formula 'within the limits stipulated by law' inserted in many provisions concerning rights and freedoms. Hence, the Assembly was constitutionally free of restricting basic rights at will.
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