• Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Host Nation Adviser
Your friend is correct. Turkey will hold general elections July 22.

The elections in Turkey are a lot more colorful than the ones in the States or in any European country. As you have noticed all the streets and walls are decorated with banners and flags of the political parties and posters of all the candidates. Additionally, convoys of cars drive through the streets of the cities as part of the political campaign for each party. That adds to the traffic congestion in the city streets which are already overcrowded.

You may also notice the loud speakers the convoys use to announce their party's platform all day long. The convoys continuously cruise the streets of the city and the loud speakers create a tremendous amount of interest.

Twenty-two parties, from the extreme left to the extreme right, are running for the 550 seats in the Parliament as well as some candidates running independently. You will notice more and more convoys and political gatherings until the election day.

Every Turkish citizen who has reached the age of 18 has the right to vote in the Turkish elections. Voting starts at 7 a.m. and continues all day long. Therefore, the traffic is a little bit busier than the regular Sunday traffic.

There is no curfew, but consuming alcoholic beverages and carrying fire arms is banned on that day. Only law enforcement personnel on duty are authorized to carry fire arms June 22.

Elections for the parliament are held for a five-year term, but the parliament could decide on holding the elections earlier. The last parliament elections were held in 2002.

Turkey is ruled according to a parliamentary system, similar to the systems in Italy, Germany, Greece and a few other countries in Europe. The president is the head of the state, but the prime minister and the council of ministers run the country. In fact, the prime minister is the person who steers the country, so to speak.

The president appoints a parliamentarian to establish the council of the ministers. Traditionally, the leader of the party with the most seats in the parliament is appointed to establish the government. The newly found cabinet should get a vote of confidence from the parliament. In case a party does not have the majority in the parliament, two or more parties could jointly establish a coalition government and run the country. Although the current government is a single-party, Turkey has been run by coalition governments for several terms.

The president is elected for a period of seven years by the parliament, either from among the members of the parliament or from among Turkish citizens over the age of 40 who are eligible to be elected to the parliament. The president cannot be elected for a second term. The current president Ahmet Necdet Sezer was elected in 2000 and a new president will be elected by the parliament right after the general elections.

As a reminder, I highly recommend you not discuss politics with local nationals and that you stay away from political gatherings and rallies.