Grand National Assembly
(Turkiye Buyuk Millet Meclisi - TBMM)
Legislative power is vested in the unicameral Grand National Assembly, consisting of 550 deputies elected every 5 years. Under the 1961 constitution, the Grand National Assembly was a bicameral parliament with over 600 members. The 1982 system represents an effort to avoid the imbalances and the challenges to leadership that occurred under the larger, two-house legislature. And the number of deputies was dropped to 450 which later in 1998 became 550.
The legislative term has been lengthened by one year under the new Constitution in an effort to reduce the preoccupation with campaigning that had contributed to Turkey's political fragmentation in the past. For the same reason, by-elections to fill vacant seats are to be held only once between general elections unless the number of vacancies reaches 5 percent of the total assembly membership. General elections may be held earlier than scheduled if a majority of deputies so decides or if a prolonged parliamentary deadlock occurs.
The Grand National Assembly is to convene on the first day of September and may not recess for more than three months a year. During an adjournment, the president may summon the assembly for an extraordinary session, either on his own initiative or at the written request of one-fifth of the members. The assembly has the power to enact, amend, and repeal laws and can pass legislation over the veto of the president. It also supervises the Council of Ministers and authorizes it to issue decrees. It debates and approves the budget and makes decisions regarding the printing of currency. In addition, the assembly approves the ratification of international treaties and has the power to authorize a declaration of war. Although the Constitution provides for legislative controls over the executive in the form of written questions, investigations, and interpellations, whereby the Council of Ministers can be voted out of office, there are also procedures under which the parliament may delegate its lawmaking powers to the Council of Ministers.
Every Turkish citizen over the age of twenty-five is eligible to be a deputy, provided that he/she has completed primary education and has not been convicted of serious crime or been involved in "ideological and anarchistic activities". Male candidates are required to have performed the compulsory military service. Members of higher judicial and educational institutions as well as civil servants and members of the armed forces must resign from office before standing for election.
According to the Constitution, deputies represent the whole nation, not merely their own constituencies. A member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly wields more patronage and influence than do members of most other Western parliaments and is expected to intervene in the bureaucracy more actively and frequently.