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Ottoman electoral law

Ottoman Electoral Law and Ottoman constitution promulgated in December 1876. Both remained valid until the end of the Ottoman Empire. The law underwent very minor amendments during the course of the Second Constitutional Era and was retained by the Republic of Turkey with slight revisions until 1946.[1]

The law was detail compassing wide electoral matters. The law stipulated designation of electoral districts. The law stipulated determination of the size of parliamentary contingents. The law stipulated preparation of registers The law stipulated selection and duties of electoral inspection committees. The law stipulated suffrage requirements. How to conduct of elections including updating registers. The law also included penal clauses.


  • Background 1
  • Electoral structure 2
  • Balloting 3
  • Analysis 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7


In 1860 a provincial law passed. Before the Ottoman Electoral Law, provincial law included elections for the neighborhood headmen. It is arguable that elections in the Ottoman Empire began in 1860, not 1876. Registration was the task of village and neighborhood headmen and religious leaders, which this rule extended to Ottoman Electoral Law. In this respect at the lowest level, basic election unit, never changed.

Electoral structure

All males above the age 25 who were registed at the tax office were entitled to vote. There were exemptions, such as proteges of a foreign government, A degree in business court related to bankrupt or disposed of their property. The prisoners were also accepted as deprived of their civil rights which extended to voting and candidacy.

The two-stage indirect election process[1]. One deputy in the chamber for every 50,000 male residents. The provincial subdivision was the sancak. Inspection units were the kaza. Candidacy for deputy was province-wide. Eligible voters elected secondary voters (that is two stage voting[2]), one for every 500 primary voters one Secondary voter. Two-stage system reinforced patronage relationships and precluded the election of candidates truly representative of the common people. [2]


The election was a staggered and drawn-out process that was not coordinated throughout the empire or even the province. Balloting was based on the multiple-member plurality system. The voters wrote in as many names as there were candidates. A candidate could run either in his province of residence or province of origin. There were rules for the secrecy of balloting and security of tallying and tabulating.[3]


French scholar Raoul de la Grasserie's detailed comparative study of electoral systems. the Ottoman electoral system compared favorably to its contemporary Western counterparts in the extent of suffrage it provided for.[3] In contrast to contemporary electoral systems of Germany, Russia, Japan, and England, there was no legally stipulated weighting that distributed among different social groups.[4]


  • Kayalı, Hasan (1995). "Elections and the Electoral Process in the Ottoman Empire, 1876-1919". International Journal of Middle East Studies 34 (27): 265–286. 


  1. ^ Two-stage elections comparable to the 1789 French electoral law
  2. ^ rules for primary voters and the French law of 1789 for election had resemblance


  1. ^ Kayalı 1995, p. 268.
  2. ^ Kayalı 1995, p. 269.
  3. ^ a b Kayalı 1995, p. 270.
  4. ^ Kayalı 1995, p. 271.
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