Turkey’s November 3, 2002 National Election Page: 3 of 6
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overwhelmingly oppose the imposition of Islamic law and political exploitation of
religion, according to public opinion polls. They want religion to remain a matter of
personal faith separate from government policy. For example, most would likely oppose
making veiling of women mandatory as favored by stricter Islamists, but might favor
allowing women to wear head scarves in public buildings, which is now forbidden.2
Forming a Government
AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan (known widely as "Tayyip") was not allowed to
run for parliament and cannot be Prime Minister because of his 1998 conviction for
inciting hatred based on religion. He had publicly recited a poem declaring, "Minarets
are our bayonets, domes are our helmets, mosques are our barracks, believers are our
soldiers." Observers suggest that his views have since evolved and moderated. If the new
parliament amends the Constitution to provide for freer expression and rescinds the ban
on Erdogan, he still will not be able to enter parliament and assume leadership of a
government until another general election or a by-election results in his being chosen as
a Member of Parliament. A constitutional provision stipulating that a by-election not be
held until at least 30 months after a general election or 5% of the seats are vacant also
would need to be amended, assuming that Erdogan would not want to wait 2 years to
take office or to have 5% of his deputies resign. CHP leader Baykal has said that Erdogan
must become Prime Minister, because it is the will of the people. Baykal supports lifting
the ban and a by-election if certain conditions are met.3 Another less likely possibility is
amending the Constitution to allow the appointment of a non-member of parliament as
Prime Minister, which some oppose because it would tailor the law to a single individual
and be a major change in the political system. Amending the Constitution requires 2/3 of
the votes in parliament, a requirement that AKP can meet with the support of a few
independents. The Constitution requires the President to approve an amendment or refer
it to a national referendum if he disapproves.
Erdogan has said that he feels voters chose him to lead because his name as party
leader was on a ballot along with the party logo. He believes "that the nation assigned a
duty to Tayyip Erdogan when electing the AKP." Because that duty is being postponed,
the AKP has to look for way to organize "along the lines of the wishes of the nation."4
Since the election, Erdogan has acted like and been treated by some foreign governments
as a national leader. AKP has authorized him to select a candidate for Prime Minister and
to name all members of the government.
AKP intends to streamline and cut the cost of government by reducing the number
of ministries from 38 to less than 25. The large number of ministries had resulted from
coalition governments, in which each partner had to be rewarded. The Court separately
2 U.S. Department of State, Office of Research, Majority of Turks are Moderate Secularists but
Support Expanding Religious Freedoms, Opinion Analysis, October 25, 2002. These conclusions
resulted from interviews conducted in Turkey between August 15-21, 2002.
3 Baykal wants parliamentary immunities lifted (as anti-corruption measure) and national
elections to be held every 4 years instead of 5 years. AKP probably would agree to the former,
but not the latter.
4 Erdogan for Strong PM, TRT, November 6, 2002, Foreign Broadcast Information Service
(hereinafter FBIS) document GMP20021106000068.
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Turkey’s November 3, 2002 National Election, report, November 14, 2002; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc817723/m1/3/: accessed October 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.