The power to legislate is vested in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA), which performs this function on behalf of the Turkish nation since it was inaugurated on April 23,1920 to act as the heart of the National Independence War against the occupying colonial powers.
Three days after the occupation of Istanbul, Ataturk published his famous 19 March 1920 announcement. It was established in definite and resolute expressions in the announcement that, “an Assembly would be gathered in Ankara that would possess extraordinary powers. The members who would participate in the assembly would be elected and the need to undertake elections at the latest within fifteen days”. Furthermore, the members of the dispersed Chamber of Deputies could also participate in the Assembly in Ankara.
When the preparations were completed, Ataturk, with his second announcement published on 21 April, disclosed that the Assembly would convene on 23 April.
Everyone gathered around the Assembly Building in Ankara at an early hour on Friday morning, 23 April 1920. The people were full of excitement at taking their own fate under control. After the noonday prayer at the Haci Bayram Mosque, a magnificent ceremony was held at the entrance to the Assembly building which filled their eyes with tears. The 115 members of parliament who were able to come to Ankara convened in the Assembly hall at 1:45 pm.
According to the traditions of the parliament, the eldest member who was the Sinop Member of Parliament, Serif Bey (1845), climbed up to the Chairmanship podium and opened the first meeting of the assembly by making the speech given below:
“Estimable people who are present here,
It is known by all of us: that Istanbul has been occupied temporarily by foreign powers and that the independence of the center of government and the office of the caliphate and all its foundations has been eliminated.
To submit to this situation means to accept the proposed foreign slavery of our nation. However, our nation which is definitely determined to live in complete independence and that has lived freely and independently since time immemorial, has definitely and to the last degree refused to acknowledge the situation of slavery and by starting immediately to gather their representatives, has produced our Supreme Assembly.
In the capacity of the eldest member of this Supreme Assembly and with God’s assistance and by directly taking on the burden of the responsibility of destiny for complete internal and external independence of our nation, I am opening the Grand National Assembly, by proclaiming to the entire world that we have started to govern ourselves”.
In this opening speech, the name of the new Turkish parliament based on national sovereignty was determined as the “Grand National Assembly”. This name was accepted by everyone. Later with its form taken in all of Ataturk’s speeches and for the first time in writing in the Council of Ministers decision of 8 February 1921, the name gained permanence as the “Turkish Grand National Assembly’.
And thus the foundations of the Turkish Republic were laid down in the historic building of TGNA. The first Parliament House witnessed many debates and national resolutions as the conducting center of the National Liberation War. This house now exhibits memories of the early years of the National Struggle as the Museum of the Liberation War.
This Assembly functioned under extraordinary circumstances and exercised legislative, executive and judicial powers under the concept of the unity of these powers.
The 1924 Constitution was prepared on the principle of unification of the power. The Judiciary, however, was to some extent independent. Furthermore, this unification of the powers was to a certain degree softened by providing for the exercise of the Executive power by the Cabinet, then called the “Executive Council”.
The 1961 Constitution did away with the unification of powers. In this Constitution, the power to legislate was vested in the two chambers: The National Assembly and the restored Republican Senate. The executive power rested with the President and the Council of Ministers, provided that their actions were within the limits delineated by the law. The exercise of judicial power was to be used in independent tribunals on behalf of the nation.
In the1982 constitution, the duties and authorities of the TGNA, now composed of one chamber, are outlined as follows:
-To enact, amend and abrogate laws
-To monitor the actions of the Council of Ministers and Ministers
-To delegate to the Council of Ministers the authority to issue “Decrees with power of law” for specific subjects
-To debate and pass the Budget and the Bills for Final Accounts
-To ratify the printing of currency and the declaration of war
-To ratify international agreements
-To declare amnesty or pardons for those convicted of crimes other than those specified in article 14 of the Constitution and to ratify the execution of death sentences ruled by the courts and for which appeals have been denied.
The TGNA convenes of its own accord on the first day of September of each year. The Assembly may recess for a maximum of three months in any one legislative year. During an adjournment or recess, the Assembly may be summoned by the President either on his own initiative or at the request of the Council of Ministers. The Speaker of the House may also, either on his own initiative or upon the written request of one-fifth of the members, call the Assembly into session.
The Chairmanship Council of the Grand National Assembly is composed of the Speaker of the House, his Deputies, Scribe Members and the Administrative supervisory members. The Council is elected from among the Assembly members in due proportion to the number of members in each political party group.
The Assembly takes its decision by the absolute majority vote of those present. Unless a decision has been taken to hoist a closed session, all debates of the Assembly may be viewed by spectators and are held openly. The proceedings are published in the journal of Records, and unless a decision to the contrary has been taken, may be published by any means.
The TGNA exercises its parliamentary control functions by means of parliamentary questions, parliamentary investigations, general debates, ministerial questioning and inquiries. The year 2005 witnesses the 85th Anniversary of the inauguration of the Turkish Grand National Assembly that has been functioning since April 23, 1920 as the sole voice of the Turkish Nation.v To celebrate the 85th Anniversary of Turkish Grand National Assembly, Pakistan Post is issuing a set of two commemorative postage stamps of Rs.10/- denomination each design on April 23, 2005, one showing photograph of Kemal Ataturk and Turkish Grand National Assembly. The other stamp is depicting Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of Turkish republic.
The Commemorative Postage stamps will be available for sale from April 23, 2005 at all important Post Offices in the country.