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The Government and Political System in Turkey

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Turkey is a parliamentary representative democracy, which has a strong tradition of secularism. The President is the head of state but he plays a largely ceremonial role. The President is elected by the unicameral parliament, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, but is not required to be one of its members. The Prime Minister is usually the head of the party that has won the elections and is elected by the parliament through a vote of confidence in his government.

Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers while legislative power rests with the parliament. Members of parliament are elected for a five-year through a proportional representation system from 85 electoral districts.

The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The Constitutional Court is charged with ruling on the conformity of laws and decrees with the constitution. The Council of State is the tribunal of last resort for administrative cases and the High Court of Appeals for all others.

In Turkey, the military has enjoyed an unusually powerful position. It is legally considered the guardian of Atatürk's Republic and is arguably the country's most trusted institution.

President Ahmet Sezer's term ends in 2007. The governing Justice and Development Party (AK) has put forward Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as its presidential candidate, causing some uproar among secularists who maintain that Gul remains loyal to his roots in political Islam.

Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the Islamist-based Justice and Development Party has been Prime Minister since 2002. Some secularists are alarmed by the government because they believe it has an Islamist agenda.

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