Chamber of Deputies of Ottoman Empire

Chamber of Deputies of Ottoman Empire


The Ottoman Empire's Chamber of Deputies was the lower house of the Ottoman Parliament's General Assembly. Unlike the upper chamber, the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies was chosen by the Ottoman public. However, voting was limited to males of a specific financial status, among other restrictions that changed over the chamber's tenure.

First Constitutional Era (1876–1878)

Directly elected Administrative Councils made the first selection of Deputies in the provinces, which served as an electoral college for Deputies and local governments during the First Constitutional Era, which lasted barely two years from 1876 to 1878. The first meeting of the chamber took place on March 19, 1877. During this time, its principal power was to vote on annual budgets proposed by the Council of Ministers. Unless their chamber voted to waive this privilege for a member, all members of parliament, even those in the chamber, had the right to free expression and were immune from arrest and criminal prosecution during their tenure. Following the formation of the entire parliament, the General Assembly, in the provinces, the members chose deputies from the General Assembly to form the Chamber of Deputies (Turkish: Meclis-i Mebusan) in Constantinople, the capital. The Chamber of Deputies, which had 130 members, reflected the empire's millets distribution. There were 71 Muslim millet delegates, 44 Christian millet representatives, and four Jewish millet representatives after the initial elections, a form of trial to populate the chamber for the first time. Following the second elections, there were 69 Muslim representatives and 46 non-Muslim representatives. The upper chamber, the Senate (whose members were chosen by the Sultan), vetoed the chamber's activities, restricting the chamber's influence. Throughout this time, there was no proper system of checks and balances between the houses of parliament or the Sultan's office. Sultan Abdul Hamid II dismissed the General Assembly and the 1876 constitution, restoring his autocracy, during the second session of the chamber, which ran from December 13 1877, to February 14 1878. The Sultan, who was known to be neurotic about personal power limits, had become increasingly frightened by outspoken criticisms of his reign's military policies and inefficiencies from members of parliament.

Second Constitutional Era (1908–1920)

The Ottoman Empire's Second Constitutional Era began soon after Abdul Hamid II was forced to establish a constitutional monarchy following the 1908 Young Turk Revolution. Many political parties and organisations arose during this time. In the March of the Deputies, the hymn of the reconstituted Chamber of Deputies, the revolutionaries, Ahmed Niyazi Bey and Enver Pasha were mentioned; the fourth line was sung "Long live Niyazi, long live Enver!" (Turkish: "Yaşasın Niyazi, yaşasın Enver!"). In 1908, Ahmet Rza was elected as the chamber's first President. The Chamber gained more actual political authority as a result of a 1909 revision to the original 1876 constitution, at the expense of the Sultan and the non-democratically elected Senate. During this time, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) gradually gained political dominance through a succession of elections. The Liberal Unionist Party (LU), the second-largest party, was a coalition of parties chaired by Prince Sabahaddin. After the 1912 elections (known as the Sopalı Seçimler, or "Election of Clubs"), which the CUP was widely believed to have rigged in its favour, the second constitutional era came to the de facto end. The Chamber of Deputies and the Sultan and the Senate ceased to have strict political control over the government after the 1913 Ottoman coup d'état and the seizure of power by the CUP triumvirate known as the Three Pashas. After World War I, the era came to an end with the Occupation of Constantinople on November 13, 1918. The last meeting, on March 18, resulted in a letter of complaint to the Allies, and a black cloth was draped over the parliament's pulpit as a reminder of the absence of its members.