A-ABOUT THE PARLIAMENTARY MANDATE
1. Eligibility and Parliamentary Mandate
The eligibility to be a deputy is regulated under Article 76 of the Constitution. Every Turk over the age of 25 is eligible to be a deputy. Persons who have not completed their primary education; who have been deprived of legal capacity; who have not performed compulsory military service; who are banned from public service; who have been sentenced to a prison term totaling one year or more excluding involuntary offences, or to a long imprisonment; those who have been convicted of dishonorable offences, such as embezzlement, corruption, bribery, theft, fraud, forgery, breach of trust, or fraudulent bankruptcy; and persons convicted of smuggling, conspiracy in official bidding or purchasing; of offences related to the disclosure of state secrets; of involvement in acts of terrorism, or incitement and encouragement of such activities, shall not be elected as a deputy even if they have been granted amnesty. In case of the loss of eligibility to be a deputy, or in case it is realized later that a person does not have one of the above-mentioned requirements, the person shall lose his or her membership.
2. Loss of Membership
The deputies may lose their membership in some cases stipulated in the Constitution. In some cases, the decision of the Assembly on the loss of membership is required. In some cases, the membership ends automatically without any decision of the Assembly being necessary. Moreover, the membership may be lost due to a judicial decision.
- Loss of membership without a resolution adopted by the Assembly
The deputies automatically lose their membership in cases of death and the ending of a legislative term.
The deputy elected as the President of the Republic automatically ceases to be a member of the Assembly.
The deputy elected to the organs of a local administration shall lose his or her membership if he or she does not decide whether to continue serving as a deputy or a member of local government within 15 days as regulated in a special law on local authorities. The membership of a deputy using his or her preference in favor of local administrative organs ends automatically without the necessity of any procedure.
The parliamentary mandate of a deputy losing his or her citizenship of the Turkish Republic ends automatically.
- Loss of membership by a resolution of the Assembly
The loss of membership of a deputy who resigns is decided by the Plenary after the validity of the resignation is determined by the Bureau of the Assembly.
A deputy who persists in holding an office or performing a duty incompatible with the parliamentary mandate stated in Article 82 of the Constitution, loses his or her membership by a resolution of the Plenary through a secret vote upon the report of the Joint Committee determining the case. The Joint Committee shall be composed of the members of the Committee on Constitution and the Committee on Justice.
A deputy who fails to attend parliamentary business without a valid excuse or leave of absence for five sitting days in total during a period of one month may lose his or her seat upon the determination of the Bureau and the decision of the Plenary by vote of absolute majority (276 deputies) of the total number of the deputies.
- Loss of membership through a decision of the court
A deputy who has been convicted of an offence that disqualifies him or her from being elected as a deputy, and a deputy who is under legal disability, may lose his or her membership upon informing the Plenary of the court decision.
3. Non-Accountability and Inviolability
Deputies are granted parliamentary non-accountability and inviolability owing to their status.
Parliamentary non-accountability means that deputies cannot be held accountable in respect of opinions expressed and votes cast in parliamentary proceedings. Non-accountability also includes the repetition of the same opinions outside the Assembly unless the Assembly decides otherwise.
Parliamentary non-accountability is absolute and consistent. A deputy cannot be held responsible due to his opinions or votes during his term of office even if his tenure expires. However, parliamentary non-accountability shall not remove liability in respect of the compensation law according to the existing rulings of the Court of Appeal.
Parliamentary inviolability implies that any deputy who is alleged to have committed an offence before and after the elections cannot be detained, interrogated, arrested and tried without the resolution of the Assembly. Parliamentary inviolability is not absolute and consistent.
The execution of a criminal conviction given before or after the election of a deputy shall be suspended till the end of his or her parliamentary mandate. Lapse of time does not work during his or her membership.
Some offences are not in the scope of inviolability. Cases of flagrante delicto requiring heavy imprisonment and the cases identified by Article 14 of the Constitution provided that an investigation was initiated before the elections are beyond the scope of inviolability. In this case, the competent authority has to inform the Assembly of the matter immediately and directly.
Parliamentary inviolability ends with the end of the parliamentary mandate. The investigation and prosecution of a re-elected deputy is subject to a new decision of the Assembly lifting inviolability.
4. Procedural Stages of Lifting Parliamentary Inviolability
In case there is an accusation of a deputy, judicial authorities refer the file to the Ministry of Justice. The file sent to the Prime Ministry by the Ministry of Justice is submitted to the Office of the Speaker in the attachment of a memorandum. The Office of the Speaker refers the file to the Joint Committee composing of the members of the Committee on Justice and the Committee on Constitution.
A preparatory committee with five members established by means of designation by lot within the Joint Committee investigates the file and concludes the report within a month starting from its inception. The Joint Committee is responsible for debating and concluding the report of the Preparatory Committee within a month. The Joint Committee decides on either lifting the inviolability or deferring the prosecution till the end of the parliamentary mandate.
If the Joint Committee decides to defer the prosecution, the report on the subject is submitted for the information of the deputies by reading it out in the Plenary. If the deputies do not raise any objection to the report within 10 days, the report is finalized. In case of any objection, the report is put on the agenda of the Plenary. The files that have not been objected to are sent to the Prime Ministry.
The reports of the Joint Committee in favor of lifting inviolability are directly put on the agenda of the Plenary. The Plenary may decide to lift the inviolability by adopting the report, or it may decide to defer the prosecution till the end of the legislative term by rejecting the report.
If the prosecution is deferred and otherwise is not decided by the Plenary, prosecution cannot take place as long as the parliamentary mandate of a deputy continues, even if a new election is held.
Deputies have to attend Plenary debates and the meetings of the committees of which they are members. Non-attendance may result in the loss of a parliamentary mandate.
The Speaker may grant leave of absence not exceeding ten days to a deputy applying in writing.
If a deputy fails to attend parliamentary proceedings without a valid excuse or leave of absence for five sittings in total during a month, his or her non-attendance is determined by the Bureau and sent to the Joint Committee. The Plenary debating the report of the Joint Committee may decide on a loss of membership by the absolute majority of the total number of deputies.
An attendance list displaying the participation of committee members in the committee meetings is submitted to both the Office of the Speaker and the chairmanship of the political party groups. A committee member who fails to attend a meeting without a valid excuse or leave of absence for three meetings in succession and one-third of the committee meetings within a year may be withdrawn from the membership of the relevant committee by his or her political party group.
The non-attendance list for the Plenary of the Assembly and committees signifies the participation of deputies and is printed once every three months and sent to the deputies. A deputy can raise an objection to the non-attendance list related to himself or herself in writing within seven days from the date he receives the list. The objection is examined by the Bureau.