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Source: DK/RA-UM/Gruppeordnede sager 1909-1945. 139. D. 1,
”Tyrkiet - Indre Forhold”. Pakke 1, til 31 dec. 1916

Edition: Danish diplomatic sources
Departure of telegram: 03/10/1915
Arrival of telegram: 03/22/1915
Embassy/consular serial number: No. 23
Translated by: Matthias Bjørnlund
Last updated: 03/23/2012

The minister in Constantinople (Carl Ellis Wandel) to the Foreign Minister (Erik Scavenius)


No. 23

Constantinople, 10 March 1915.

The Turkish Parliament.

Mr. Foreign Minister,

In my report no. XXII [22] of today I have given an overview of the results of the now finished parliamentary session. One of the questions that were dealt with during the session, the amendment of the Constitution which I have earlier mentioned in my report no. XXVI [26] of 17 December 1914 concerning the opening of the Chambers, does, however, deserve to be further commented on, not only because the question of the amendment of the Constitution was in itself quite politically significant, but also because the treatment of this issue, although it happened in the summary manner that has been typical of the Turkish Parliament during the last two parliamentary sessions, with quick and almost unanimous passing [of articles, bills, etc.], gave the first indication of what seems to have gradually become a very significant Senate opposition, which, concentrated around Ahmet Riza Bey, was outlined in the now finished session.

The constitutional amendment that the government desired was about 1) shortening the length of the sessions from 6 to 4 months a year with the possibility for the government to, if it happens to find it necessary, extend its duration, and 2) to give the Crown the right to postpone the session indefinitely, with, however, the limitation that the Parliament should be in session for at least 4 months each parliamentary year. These proposals were aimed at further increasing the power of the government (i.e., the Committee) vis-a-vis the legislative authority.

The parliamentary commission that has been appointed agreed after negotiation with the government that the Crown should be given the right to postpone the opening of the session for up to 3 months with the expressed stipulation that this right was limited to be used no more than once each parliamentary year. The Parliament should be in session each month of November or after the end of the possible postponement - and without having to wait for any convening called by the government. The government should furthermore have the right to postpone the meetings of the session without determining any specific date, but with the obligation to let the parliamentary session be extended with an equal amount of time during that same parliamentary year.

In order to secure that the government was not enabled to suspend the session before the passing of the budget, the commission furthermore agreed that it should be expressedly added that the postponement (of the opening or of the meetings) must not be allowed to violate the principle that the budget is only valid for one year and cannot stay in force for longer than that if not a dissolution of the Parliament according to Art. 35 of the Constitution extends its validity until new elections have been held.

The commission's suggestions were adopted and the government has, at the prolongation of the Parliament that has now taken place, for the first time made use of the right that has been given to it to postpone the meetings of the session. As the Chambers have been in session for 2 1/2 months, there is still 1 1/2 months left of the session, and since the Parliament will be convened again 1 September 1915 (old style), it means that this session will last throughout the month of October or right until the new session (1915-16) is to start in the beginning of November (old style), unless the government makes use of its right to postpone the opening of the Chambers.

The constitutional amendment was passed almost without discussion on 18 January this year - and in one day. An Armenian deputy, Artin Bochguézenian, suggested that the Chambers were given the right to postpone their meetings themselves in order to give the Parliament a means to cease to legislate with a government that one for one reason or another did not want to topple under the given circumstances. In the Chamber of Deputies the amendments were passed with 186 votes out of 189; only 2 deputies, the Armenians Vatkess [Vartkes Serengulian] and Kegham [Kegham Der Garabedian], voted against them.

In the Senate, however, Ahmet Riza Bey, the former chairman of the Young Turk Committee and the former president of the Chamber of Deputies, the man that had once in Paris held all the threads during the efforts to secure Turkey a constitution, fiercely fought against the constitutional amendments, and he was supported by two other senators, Ali Ghalib Bey and the Greek Georgiades Effendi. The amendments were still passed with 43 votes out of 48, and the 3 mentioned senators were the only ones who voted against them.

Thus, the government could comparatively easy to a large extent carry into effect its wishes of extending its power at the expense of the Parliament.

With the highest esteem I remain, Mr. Minister, yours faithfully


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