The idea of a constitution is relatively new in Turkey as compared to Western Europe. By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, there remained only two European countries without a constitution: Russia and Turkey. The first constitution was proclaimed on December 23, 1876, thereby ushering in an era of parliamentary rule for the first time in the history of the Ottoman Empire. This constitution “did not derive from a constituent assembly, but was promulgated by the sovereign power” (Lewis, 1961: 161). A few months later, however, it was suspended by Abdülhamit II who, in doing so, ironically used the very power accorded to him by the Constitution itself when the RussoTurkish war broke out in 1877. The Young Turk revolution of 1908 called for a return to constitutional regime and the suspended constitution was restored. A year later, on August 21, 1909, a new law was adopted incorporating several revisions, amendments and additions to the Constitution. It was modified several times until the last Ottoman parliament was dissolved on April 11, 1920.
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For the text of the 1921 Constitution, see Altuğ (1973: 121–122).
For the complete text of the Official Report, see Gözübüyük and Sezgin (1956: 1–9).
Esen (1978: 17–18), in discussing the characteristics of the 1924 Constitution, identifies three periods in the evolution of this law: (1) the characteristics resulting from the conditions existing at the time the Constitution was adopted, i.e., the need for a rigid constitution and a government based on the will of the people; (2) the characteristics acquired soon after the Constitution was adopted and related to secular orientation; and (3) the characterstics acquired as a result of political development after 1946. The omnipotence of the legislative branch raised serious concern after the establishment of a multi-party system in 1946 and demands were raised for a constitutional court and for strengthening the civil liberties clauses in the Constitution against infringement by the legislative power. Esen’s interpretation was first presented in a paper, “The Characteristics of the 1924 Constitution,” delivered in a seminar jointly organized by the Columbia Law School and Istanbul University Faculty of Law, and held in Kilyos, Istanbul (1959).
Hüseyin Naili Kubali at the Kilyos, Istanbul, Seminar (1959): cf. Armağan: Kanun-u Esasi’inn 100. Yili (Ankara, 1978), p. 40.
Ismet Giritli at the Kilyos Seminar: c.f. Ibid., pp. 19–20.
Ali Fuat Başgil and Walter Gelhorn at the Kilyos Seminar: c.f. Ibid., pp. 12, 9.
The seven amendments were as follows: (1) Article 68 and Temporary Article 11 were amended by Law No. 1188 of November 6, 1969 (Resmî Gazete, No. 13349, November 12, 1969). This law was overturned by the Constitutional Court (RG, No. 13858, June 7, 1971). (2) Article 70 was amended by Law No. 1254 of April 17, 1970, and a temporary article was added (RG, No. 13478, April 22, 1970). (3) On the same day, Article 131 was amended by Law No. 1255. (4) After the Memorandum of March 12, 1971, issued by the Chief of General Staff and the Chiefs of the Land, Sea and Air Forces, forcing the government to resign because of its inability to cope with the anarchic situation; Articles 56 and 82 were amended by Law No. 1421 of June 30, 1971 (RG, No. 13883, July 2, 1971). (5) Also during the “national government” of Nihat Erim backed by the military, thirty-fıve articles were amended and nine temporary articles were added by Law No. 1488 of September 20, 1971 (RG, No. 13964, September 22, 1971). (6) On March 15, 1973, before the general elections, Articles 30, 57, 136, 138 and 148 were amended and two temporary articles were added by Law No. 1699 (RG, No. 14482, March 20, 1973). (7) Article 68 and Temporary Article II were again amended by Law No. 1801 of April 16, 1974 (RG, No. 14866, April 22, 1974).
Article 89 dwelt on a motion of no confidence accompanied by a statement of the reasons during a debate of an interpellation or of a request for a vote of confidence on the part of the Council of Ministers.
Article 104 refers to a vote of no confidence resulting from a request by the prime minister for a vote of confidence in the National Assembly after having discussed the request at a meeting of the Council of Ministers.
This was also pointed out in the report of the Council of State presented to the Chairman of the Constitutional Commision of the Advisory Assembly. c.f. Cumhuriyet, March 25, 1982.
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Altuğ, Y. (1984). The Development of Constitutional Thought in Turkey. In: Evin, A. (eds) Modern Turkey: Continuity and Change. Schriften des Deutschen Orient-Instituts. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-663-01177-4_7
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