On this Sunday, 1st November 2015, the 25th general election in the history of the Republic of Turkey will be held; it’s the second one this year. The last general election, held on 7th June failed to elect a majority government, and the major parties were unable to form a coalition government. As a result, this is what the Turkish media is describing as a ‘snap’ election. But before that, the country will celebrate the most important date in its national calendar, Cumhuriyet Bayramı, Republic Day.
General Election this Sunday
If you live in Fethiye, or are visiting the town, you will probably have seen that some of the political parties have decorated the streets around their election bureaus with bunting. Even so, the town has seen much less ‘loud speaker’ electioneering than in previous general elections. This is due to the country being in a state of mourning since the double bombing in Ankara on 10th October, which killed more than 100 people and injured hundreds of others, and the death of several ‘Şehit’, martyrs, who were members of the security forces based in south eastern Turkey. There are also concerns over security.
Meetings for party members are being held but come 17:00, on Saturday 31st October, everything must stop and the bunting removed.
How does a Turkish general election work?
On Sunday, voters in Fethiye, just like Turkish citizens throughout the other 84 electoral districts, will go to their allocated polling station to vote for their party of choice. In Turkey there is a form of proportional representation called the D’honda method. Turkey elects 550 Members of Parliament to the Grand National Assembly in which Muğla province will be represented by six politicians.
In order to return a lawmaker to parliament, the party must pass a 10% electoral threshold. Those that don’t pass the threshold on a nationwide basis, will have their votes re-allocated to the party that comes first in each of the 85 electoral districts, in many cases resulting in a large winner’s bonus for the party that comes first overall.
However, this threshold does not apply to independent candidates.
Those politicians elected on Sunday’s will form Turkey’s 25th Parliament since the foundation of the Republic in 1923, although the first General Elections were held in Turkey on 21st July 1946.
Alcohol free day
Additionally, it is officially forbidden to sell alcohol on Election Day from 6am to 6pm.
Republic Day holiday
This week is not just about elections. As at the end of every October, there is the annual one and a half day public holiday when Turkey celebrates Cumhuriyet Bayramı (Republic Day); starting at 1pm on Wednesday 28th October and running through to midnight on 29th October this 35 hour national holiday is seen an essential part of modern Turkish identity. Everyone was expecting to return to work on the Friday until the Ankara authorities recently announced that in addition to the public holiday there will be a an extra ‘administration holiday’ on Friday 30th October.
Turkey’s Republic Day
Anatolia had in effect been a republic since 23rd April 1920, the date when the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was established, but Ataturk’s official announcement confirming the foundation of the Republic was held on 29th October 1923. Subsequently, a vote was held in the Grand National Assembly, and Atatürk was elected as the first President of the Republic of Turkey.
Every year since then there has been a holiday to commemorate the tumultuous events leading up to and on this most important date in the Turkish calendar, the 29th October 1923, when Mustafa Kemal, the founder of modern Turkey, declared that the country had officially become a republic. This is traditionally celebrated with a 35-hour holiday and this year will be no different. Normally, there would be poetry readings, traditional folk dancing, theatre, parades and speeches, but again, in view of the tragic events in the country, and security alerts, this years celebrations are likely to be low-key.
Opening hours, transport, etc
For the national holiday, Public administration buildings, schools, post offices will close. Some small businesses may shut too.
Public transport schedules may vary and there could be diversions due to street processions.