5.2 Youth participation in representative democracy
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Young people as voters
Within the framework of the provision “All Turkish citizens over eighteen years of age shall have the right to vote in elections and to take part in referenda” in the article 67 “Right to vote, to be elected and to engage in political activity” of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, the voting age was determined as 18 with the amendment in 1995.
The article 76 “Eligibility to be a deputy” of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Anayasası) included the provision “Every Turk over the age of twenty-five is eligible to be a deputy”. In that respect, any Turkish citizen meeting the other conditions specified in the constitution who is at least 25 years old could be a candidate in the elections for legislative body. With the ratification of Constitutional Amendment in the referendum held on 16 April 2017, the age of candidacy has reduced to 18. Hereupon, the age of candidacy was regulated as 18 with the amendment made in the Law on Elections of the Members of Parliament.
The age at which the mayor, the member of the municipal council, the member of the provincial council, the headman and the members of the council of elders can be elected in local administrations was determined as 25 in 1993.
Election turnout is high in Turkey. In the 2011, June 2015 and November 2015 and June 2018 general elections (excluding the customs gates), the general turnout was 87.16%, 86.43%, 87.40 and 88.18%, respectively. However, there are no official statistics showing youth participation, although it is seen in the election surveys that youth participation is at the same level as general participation.
Young people as political representatives
The article 67 “Right to vote, to be elected and to engage in political activity” of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey includes the provision: “In conformity with the conditions set forth in the law, citizens have the right to vote, to be elected, to engage in political activities independently or in a political party, and to take part in a referendum”. Article 68 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey includes the provision: “Citizens have the right to form political parties and duly join and withdraw from them. One must be over eighteen years of age to become a member of a party. The principles concerning the membership of students at higher education to political parties are regulated by law.”
Article 7 “Organisation of Political Parties” of the Political Parties Act (Siyasi Partiler Kanunu) includes the regulation; “Organisation of political parties is composed of the central bodies and provincial, district and country organisations; Grand National Assembly Group and general provincial council and municipal council groups. In the bylaws of the political parties, it may be anticipated that they can establish women’s branch, youth branch and similar subsidiary bodies as well as representations in foreign countries.” Within the framework of this legal regulation, all political parties include youth branches in their bylaws of establishment.
The average age of the present Assembly in Turkey is 50 and there are 8 members of the parliament who are younger than 30 as of the election date. In that framework, the ratio of young members of the parliament is 1.3%. In accordance with the bylaw of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the youngest six members of the parliament act as temporary clerk members in the organisation of the Interim Bureau of the Assembly.