Deliberations in the Plenary
1. Including Bills on the Agenda of the Plenary
The bill is submitted to the Office of the Speaker after the main committee to which the bill is referred has concluded its report. The committee reports are numbered and printed. After this stage, the committee reports are followed according to their numbers. The committee reports are distributed to the political party groups, committees and deputies, published in the Order Paper and put on the web page of the Assembly. The committee reports shall not be put on the agenda of the Plenary sooner than 48 hours after their distribution. After 48 hours have been elapsed, the relevant report is put on the agenda as the last item of the part on “Bills and other items from the Committees.” However, the Plenary may put the report on the agenda and change the sequence of the report on the agenda before 48 hours have expired upon a proposal of the Board of Spokespersons.
2. Deliberations of Committee Report
The deliberation on the bill begins only if the main committee and the government are present in the Plenary. The Speaker asks whether the main committee and the government are present. The committees are represented by the chairperson or vice-chairperson or the spokesperson(s) designated for that purpose. If the main committee is not present, the debate shall not start. If the main committee is present but the government is absent, then the deliberation of that item is postponed at once. In the following sitting, if the main committee is present, the deliberation begins even if the government is not ready for the sitting. The presence of a minister on behalf of the government is enough to start the deliberation. However, the relevant ministers usually sit in the Plenary because the question-answer procedure will take place and the opinions of the government on the motions will be consulted.
The representative of the committee may request to reject the motions, demanding an amendment to the bill drafted by the committee, or request motions to be referred back to the committee. However, the representative may accept the motions only if a sufficient number of committee members required for the quorum is present and provides opinions in favor thereof.
Committee and government representatives sit together during the debates on the committee reports. The senior ministerial officials also sit with the ministers to provide them with necessary information during the question-answer process.
Plenary debates are broadcasted live via Parliament TV and the web page of the Assembly unless decided otherwise.
3. Procedures for Deliberation on Bills in the Plenary
The deliberations on the bills are composed of four parts: speeches, questions-answers, the motion process, and voting.
The process starts with a debate on the bill as a whole. The representatives of the government, the committees, and representatives of political party groups may have the floor for twenty minutes, and two deputies may have the floor for ten minutes to deliver their speeches on the whole bill. Later, voting takes place on whether the deliberation on the articles begins after a question-answer period of twenty minutes. If the Plenary decides not to continue with the debate on articles, the bill is deemed as rejected.
If the Plenary decides to continue deliberation on the articles, deliberations start. Representatives of the government, committees and political party groups may have the floor for twenty minutes and two deputies for ten minutes on each article. The question-answer period on the articles is ten minutes. After the question-answer period, motions are processed. Each article is voted on separately.
If a motion concerning the continuation of debates is tabled before the question-answer procedure on the articles and the bill as a whole takes place, and if the motion is accepted by the Plenary, the political party groups and deputies are given the floor for the second time. In this case, speakers can have the floor for a period of no more than half of the first speaking time.
If requested, two deputies, one in favor and the other against the bill, may have the floor to express the manner in which they will vote before the voting on the whole bill takes place. After these speeches, the whole bill is put to the vote. If accepted, the bill becomes a law.
4. Leave to Speak and Order of Speeches
The deputies request leave to speak by a written application directed to the Office of the Speaker. Besides the number of the committee report and the articles on which the speech will be delivered, the direction of the speech (in favor or against) must be indicated in the application.
During the debates, the representatives of political party groups and two deputies in their own capacities are granted leave to speak in the order of request. Deputies cannot have the floor before political party groups. If more than two deputies request leave to speak at the same time in their own capacities, the speaker will be determined by lot.
The secretaries record all requests for leave to speak only if the requests are about the subjects on the agenda and subjects known to be on the agenda on a specific day in accordance with the Constitution, laws and the Rules of Procedure. In practice, the requests for leave to speak on the bills are received by the Laws and Resolutions Department immediately after the distribution of committee reports to the deputies.
A deputy may delegate his or her right to speak to another deputy.
The government and main committee have the priority in the order of speeches. The main committee has the floor before the government. The main committee and the government are not subject to the order of speeches. İf the main committee and the government have the floor after the second speeches delivered by deputies in their own capacities, one deputy is entitled to make the final speech. As a rule, deputies have the final say.
5. Motions of Amendment
A motion of amendment is the proposal with justification submitted by deputies, the government or the main committee aiming to change, to repeal an article of the bill partly or as a whole, or to add a supplementary or provisional article to the text.
Motions of amendment are directed to the Office of the Speaker. Provisions that are requested to be amended, repealed or added, must be clearly indicated in the motions of amendment. Unclear and conditional motions are not processed.
The motions of amendment must be submitted with their justifications. If the motion of amendment exceeds 500 words, the owner of the motion must append a summary to the motion. In that case, the summary is read out in the Plenary. The whole motion is attached to the minutes.
Deputies who supported and signed the committee report cannot table a motion of amendment on that subject.
Motions of amendments can be tabled only by one deputy within a period from the distribution of the committee report to the commencement of debates on that topic. However, if the debates have started, at least five deputies may table a motion of amendment. The motions of amendment may be tabled before the motion process of the articles starts.
Deputies cannot table more than seven motions of amendments on each article including the motions claiming the unconstitutionality of the bills. However, the right of the deputies belonging to the political party groups to table a motion of amendment is reserved. If that right is not used by deputies that are members of political party groups, other deputies that are not members of political party groups and independents also have the right to table an additional motion of amendment.
The motions of amendments that are not related to the subject matter of the bill under debate and that envisage an amendment or addition to another bill, are considered as a new bill and are not processed.
If the motions requiring an amendment to an article of the bill under debate, which is not stated in the committee report but closely related to the bill, has the support of the absolute majority of the committee, a debate on the motions is opened as a new article. First, motions envisaging a new article are read out. If the absolute majority of committee members are not present, these motions are not processed. If an absolute majority of the committee members support the motion of amendment, the motion is processed as a new article.
A copy of motions of an amendment is distributed to the committee, the government, the political party groups, and stenographs.
Motions of amendments are read out and processed in the order of submission and the degree of inconsistency. After the motion is read out, the Speaker asks the committee and the government whether they agree with the motion or not. The committee and the government may explain the reasons for the disagreement. If the committee and the government disagree with the motion, the sponsor of the motion may have the floor for five minutes. After that, the motion is voted for by show of hands. If the motion is accepted, the article with its amendment is put to the vote.
6. Vote on the whole bill and articles
There are three forms of vote in the Plenary:vote by show of hands, an open vote, and a secret vote. The Constitution, laws and the Rules of Procedure state how the items shall be voted for.
Except constitutional amendments, all votes on the bills or articles that are not subject to the open vote are conducted by open vote if 20 deputies request to do so, otherwise by show of hands.
7. Vote by show of hands
The vote by show of hands is conducted by deputies raising their hands. The votes of the deputies are not recorded. A vote by show of hands as a rule shall be conducted in all cases where an open or a secret vote is not required in the Constitution, laws and the Rules of Procedure. Regarding matters which, according to the Rules of Procedure, have to be voted on by show of hands, it is obligatory to conduct a vote by show of hands.
During a vote by show of hands, the Speaker and the secretaries count and together identify those who raise their hands in favor of and against the matter voted on. In case there is a disagreement among them or if the votes cannot be identified by them, the Speaker announces that the vote will be repeated by electronic devices. The result is announced by the Speaker stating “adopted” or “not adopted.”
8. Open Vote
An open vote is conducted by electronic devices. A list indicating the manner in which each deputy voted is attached to the minutes of the Assembly. The cases in which the open vote shall be conducted are clearly listed by the Rules of Procedure.Except these cases, an open vote on the bills is subject to the written request of at least 20 deputies and 15 deputies in any other cases provided that voting by show of hands or secret vote is not obligatory as per the Constitution, laws and the Rules of Procedure.
Voting on budget and final account bills, bills including fiscal provisions and obligations, approval of the ratification of international treaties, development plans and other issues specified by obligatory provisions of the Rules of Procedure, is conducted by open vote.
In an open vote, deputies vote as “accepted,” “rejected” or “abstention.”
9. Secret Vote
In a secret vote, the manner in which the deputies vote is never identified and recorded. The deputies are given an envelope and a red (rejection), white (adoption) and green (abstention) ballot paper and are asked to place one of these ballot papers into the envelope in a closed polling booth.
The votes are counted by the quaestors in the Bureau of that Plenary sitting. The results are announced to the Plenary as “accepted,” “rejected,” “abstention,” “blank” and “invalid.”
The bills on constitutional amendments, motions of parliamentary investigation and reports of the Committee of Investigation are decided by secret vote.
10. Basic Law (Special Legislative Procedure)
An urgent legislative process is envisaged by Article 91 of the Rules of Procedure for comprehensive bills. According to this Article, bills amending an existing law completely or comprehensively and putting the laws into force and those proposals amending the Rules of Procedure may be debated and voted on through a special procedure. These bills shall be about the laws including general principles that systematically amend a particular branch of law completely or comprehensively. They relate to a considerable part of personal and social life; indicate the basic concepts of special laws in their own fields; ensure harmony in practice among special laws; necessitate the protection of integrity and relations between the articles in terms of areas they regulate; and are subjected to special debating and voting procedure in the previous legislative process.
The Plenary decides which bills are debated as “basic law” upon the proposal of the Board of Spokespersons or the party groups.First, a debate on the whole bill is opened and a vote is taken on whether the Plenary should move on to articles. If moving to a debate on articles is accepted, the chapters are debated. The bill is divided into chapters not exceeding more than thirty articles. In this procedure, the articles are not debated separately, but speeches are made and the question-answer process is followed on the chapters. Question-answer time on chapters is limited to fifteen minutes. Deputies have the right to table at most two motions on the article including the motions regarding unconstitutionality. However, the right of deputies of each political party group to table one motion is reserved. In this procedure, articles are not read out, motions of amendments are processed, and articles are voted on without a debate. After the chapters have been debated and all articles have been voted on, voting on the bill as a whole takes place.
11. Constitutional Amendments
Constitutional amendments may be introduced only by at least one-third of the total number of deputies (at least 184) in the Assembly.
The bills amending the Constitution are debated twice in the Plenary. The constitutional amendments are adopted by the secret votes of at least three-fifths of the total number of deputies (330 deputies).
The President of the Republic may send the laws amending the Constitution back to the Assembly for re-consideration. If the Assembly accepts the law sent back to the Assembly by the majority of two-thirds of the total number of deputies, the President may submit the law to a referendum.
If a law amending the Constitution is adopted by three-fifths (330) or less than a two-third majority (367) of the total number of votes of the Assembly and is not sent back to the Assembly by the President, it is published in the Official Gazette to be submitted to a referendum.
A law amending the adopted Constitution, directly or after the President’s return, by a two-thirds majority of the total number of members (367) of the Assembly, or its articles as considered necessary, may be submitted to referendum by the President. Laws or related articles of the constitutional amendment that are not submitted to a referendum shall be published in the Official Gazette.
The Grand National Assembly of Turkey, when adopting the laws related to the constitutional amendment, shall also decide on which provisions shall be submitted to a referendum together or separately.
The bills on the constitutional amendments are debated and adopted as per the provisions valid for ordinary bills except the above-mentioned provisions.
12. Decrees Having the Force of Law
Decrees having the force of laws are the regulatory acts issued by the Council of Ministers based on an empowering law passed by the Assembly. The empowering law shall determine the purpose, scope, principles, and operative period of the decree having the force of law, and whether more than one decree will be issued within the same period.
The fundamental rights, individual rights and duties included in the First and Second Chapter of the Second Part of the Constitution and the political rights and duties listed in the Fourth Chapter cannot be regulated by decrees having the force of law except during periods of martial law and states of emergency. In addition, the Council of Ministers cannot be authorized to change the budget with decrees having the force of law.
Decrees having the force of law shall come into force on the day of their publication in the Official Gazette and shall be submitted to the Assembly on the same day. However, a later date may be indicated in the decree as the date of entry into force. Decrees not submitted to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey on the day of their publication shall cease to have effect on that day.
The Grand National Assembly of Turkey may reject or adopt decrees having the force of law with or without amendments, only through a law. The process relating to repealed decrees having the force of law shall not end unless a report is submitted to the Plenary.
Bills of empowering laws and decrees having the force of law shall be debated immediately and before all other items in the committees and the Plenary.
13. Right of Explanation
The government, committees and political party groups or deputies about whom offensive remarks are made or to whom an opinion which he or she has not expressed is attributed may give an explanation or respond. The person who requests to take the floor for the purpose of explanation or response informs the Speaker of the motivation of his or her request. Giving the floor is at the Speaker’s discretion. The Speaker determines the duration of the explanation and response which shall take place in the same session. If the person who has not been given the floor resists, the Plenary decides on the subject by show of hands without debate.
The right to give an explanation is used by the Prime Minister or a minister on behalf of the government, a committee representative on behalf of the committee, and leaders of the political party groups on behalf of their groups.
14. Debate on the Procedure
Article 95 of the Constitution states that “Grand National Assembly performs its activities according to the Rules of Procedure which is adopted by itself.” However, in some cases, there is no provision for very specific issues, or the existing provisions are not clear enough. In such cases, the debate on procedure is opened in order to determine the route the Plenary will take.
The purpose of the debate on procedure is to determine the compliance of the procedure with the existing rules, and to ensure that debates are held in accordance with the Rules of Procedure.
According to Article 63 of the Rules of Procedure, issues regarding procedure such as whether there is room for debate or not, calling the Speaker to comply with the agenda, or the working procedure of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, and advancing or setting back an issue, have priority of debate over other items.
Any deputy may demand a debate on the procedure. In practice, deputy leaders of the political party groups usually demand debates on the procedure.
If such request is tabled, the Speaker opens a debate on the procedure. At most two deputies, one in favor and another against, are given the floor for a period not exceeding ten minutes. To decide the necessity of a vote after the debate on the procedure is at the discretion of the Speaker. If a vote is required as a result of the debate on the procedure, it shall be performed by show of hands.
14. Disciplinary Sanctions
Undisciplined words and acts of deputies during the plenary debates are subject to disciplinary sanctions. Disciplinary sanctions are warnings, reprimands and temporary suspension of the deputy from the Assembly.
Warning: Interruption of the speaker, breach of peace and order, and engaging in personalities are the actions that require the deputy being warned. The speaker has the right to issue and implement a warning. If the deputy warned by the Speaker wants to take the floor to defend himself or herself, he or she is given the floor at that sitting. The Speaker may remove the sanction if he or she considers the defense of the deputy sufficient. If a deputy is warned twice in the same sitting, the situation must be stated in the summary of the minutes. This deputy can be banned from speaking until the end of that sitting by the Plenary on a proposal of the Speaker.
Reprimand: Cases that require a reprimand are specified in the Rules of Procedure as follows:
· Persisting in acts requiring a “warning” although already warned twice in the same sitting,
· Being warned three times in a month,
· Using rude and insulting words,
· Physical attack,
· Causing noise and disorder in the Assembly or inciting a collective action with the aim of preventing the Assembly from performing its functions.
The reprimand may be issued by the Plenary on the proposal of the Speaker. Any deputy against whom a reprimand is proposed may defend himself or herself individually or assign another deputy to do so. A reprimand is recorded in the summary of minutes.
Temporary Suspension from the Assembly: The cases that require the suspension of a deputy from the Assembly are the following:
· Being reprimanded three times during the same sitting,
· Being reprimanded five times in a month,
· Insulting. or swearing at, or threatening the President, the Assembly, the Speaker, the Bureau, the vice-speaker serving as the Presiding Officer, or swearing at the Republic of Turkey or the constitutional order during the debates,
· Encouraging or inciting people, state forces or public organs, institutions and officials to illegal actions or riots against constitutional order,
· Entering the precincts of the Assembly armed,
· Acting illegally in the parliamentary buildings and on the campus.
The Plenary suspends the deputy from the Assembly for a maximum of three sittings on the proposal of the presiding officer chairing the sitting. The deputy who has been suspended from the Assembly can defend himself or herself individually in the Plenary or assign another deputy to defend him or her. The sanction is recorded in the summary of the minutes.
A deputy temporarily suspended from the Assembly cannot participate in the meetings of the Plenary, committee, Bureau or Board of Spokespersons for the duration of the sanction.
When a deputy temporarily suspended from the Assembly presents a clear apology in the Plenary, he gains the right to participate in the parliamentary business.