State and politics
Since the controversial constitutional amendments were
introduced in 2018, the constitution gives significant
powers to the president. As the country's head of state, he
can dissolve parliament, announce new elections and issue
emergency permits. The president also appoints the prime
minister and senior judges as well as the management of the
Riksbank and the state broadcasting company. The President
is elected by Parliament for five years. Members of
Parliament are elected in general elections for five years.
Kemal Atat邦rk's vision of the secular, western state is
challenged in modern Turkey by political parties working to
preserve traditional Islamic-Turkish culture. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how TR can stand for Turkey.
The political party that dominated Turkish politics in
the 21st century, the Justice and Development Party, the
AKP, led by its founder Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was from the
outset an antithesis to the influence of the army and
represented a movement away from secularism. During the
2010s, the AKP acted increasingly authoritarian, which
resulted in the erosion of democracy.
On April 16, 2017, a referendum was held, which by a
small margin approved the proposal to introduce presidential
government. Just over 51 percent of voters voted for the
proposal and just under 49 percent voted against.
Participation was high, around 85 percent.
The constitutional changes that were approved had an
impact in the subsequent elections on June 24, 2018, which
meant that Erdogan became both head of state and head of
government. Through the constitutional changes, the balance
between executive, legislative and judicial power, which was
regulated in the previous constitution of 1982, has tipped
into a system that gives the president very far-reaching
In effect, the constitutional amendments mean that the
president can appoint senior managers in the administration,
all ministers and one or more vice presidents. The President
can dissolve Parliament, but Parliament can also demand
fresh elections and Parliament retains its power over the
legislation. The president can be re-elected once.
The post of Prime Minister was abolished with the
constitutional amendments. The President is elected at the
same time as Parliament for a period of five years. If no
candidate receives an absolute majority, a second round is
held with the two strongest candidates.
In the 1982 Constitution, the National Security Council,
then dominated by military, had a central role in the center
of power. This has gradually been loosened up as the
civilian government increased its influence over the army.
The National Security Council is led by the President, who
is also Commander-in-Chief, and has a majority of civilian
members (2020). At the same time, the Council's role is more
limited; the president can decide on his own that emergency
permits should be introduced in the country.
The constitutional changes meant that Parliament's
function was postponed in the direction of getting more of
the character of a government advisory body. At the same
time as Parliament retains its basic, legislative power, it
has become more difficult to oust the president or overthrow
the government through a vote of no confidence. By vetoing,
the president can stop Parliament's bill. However, the veto
can be lifted by Parliament. Parliament may also amend the
constitution, but such a resolution requires a two-thirds
majority and the president may require the amendments to be
approved in a referendum.
Through the constitutional changes, the number of MPs was
increased from 550 to 600. The term of office is five years
and coincides with the presidential mandate. The parties
must receive more than 10 percent of the vote in order to be
represented in Parliament. The fact that the barrier is high
is based on the fact that there are a large number of
registered political parties, at the 2018 election some 80s.
Of the 600 members, 104 are women and 496 are men (2020).
Full voting rights for women were introduced in 1934 and
women have been in parliament since 1935.
Municipal elections are held every five years but follow
a different timetable. The most recent elections were held
on March 31, 2019.
The party leaders have great influence and the party
system is strongly divided. During the 1990s several parties
were banned, which then emerged in new costume. With the
exception of the largest party, the Justice and
Development Party (AKP), which is a center-right party
based on religious values, the parties lack broad basic
The June 2015 parliamentary elections were seen by many
as one of Turkey's most important in modern times and as a
value gauge for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's proposal
for constitutional change. However, the outcome was a
staggering defeat for Erdoğan and the AKP. From having
received more than 50 percent of the vote in the 2010
election and own parliamentary majority, the AKP now
received only 40.9 percent (258 seats).
The major winner of the election became the pro-Kurdish
Left Party People's Democratic Party (HDP), which
for the first time passed the ten percent barrier. The HDP,
which received its support mainly among the Kurdish
Allevites both in the big cities and in eastern Turkey,
opposed a constitutional change.
HDP also highlighted women and LGBT issues, which made
the party attractive among young Alevites and other secular
youth. Even the secular Republican People's Party
(CHP, once formed by Kemal Atat邦rk) and the
ultra-conservative National Action Party (MHP)
opposed the AKP's proposed amendment to the Constitution.
These parties are the second largest and third largest party
in Turkey, respectively. In addition to the above-mentioned
lots, there are a number of small lots. None of these,
however, passed the ten per cent block and thus received no
representation in Parliament.
In addition to the fear that the AKP would enforce a
constitutional change, there were several factors that could
explain the AKP's race, namely widespread corruption,
voters' concerns about the economy and a Syria policy that
failed. In addition, there were criticisms of Erdogan's
increasingly powerful government and attempts to silence its
Two months after the election, the government
negotiations were stranded and President Erdoğan announced
new elections until November 1, 2015. In this, the AKP went
ahead and won its own majority with 58 percent of the seats
in parliament. The reversal was preceded by a severely
deteriorating security situation in the country. More than
100 people had been killed in a terror attack in Ankara on
October 10, 2015. Prior to that, the peace talks between the
government and the PKK had broken down and the armed
struggle resumed in the south-eastern parts of the country.
Erdoğan's ambition to push through the controversial
constitutional change intensified in 2017. The AKP then
presented the reform that was voted through in Parliament
and then signed by the President to be included in a
referendum in April of that year. The vote was preceded by
intense campaigns through official channels where Erdoğan's
supporters argued that the constitutional changes were equal
to the stability of the country and not at all, as critics
thought, had anything to do with one-man rule or the erosion
of fundamental freedoms and rights. The issue of amending
the constitution to further expand the power of the
president came to be a water divider in the already divided
country. This was reflected in the very small majority
voting for the reform.
In the combined parliamentary and presidential elections
held in 2018, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and AKP won in the first
round of elections. Erdoğan thus became the first president
to govern the country under the changing constitution.
The results in the municipal elections in 2019 showed
that the image of Erdoğan as the country's undisputed leader
began to crack. The AKP, which in many places appeared in
alliance with the MHP, lost control of both Ankara and
Istanbul. The municipal elections can be seen as an
indication of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary
elections, to be held no later than June 24, 2023.
Turkey belongs to the circle of countries that founded
the UN, the OECD and the OSCE. Turkey has been a member of
the Council of Europe since 1949 and since 1952 in NATO.
Negotiations for EU membership began in autumn 2005, but
relations between the EU and Turkey continue to be
complicated. The EU calls for Turkey to act as a gatekeeper
and prevent refugees from accessing the EU via Turkey, which
is one of the main escape routes into Europe. The EU also
demands that Turkey repatriate refugees who have come to
Greece. For these measures, Turkey will receive a
substantial financial contribution of EUR 6 billion. See EU-Turkey
Agreement. The counterclaim from Turkey is that the EU
should immediately give Turkish citizens visa-free access to
the EU. However, this is complicated by Turkey's
restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of expression
and other democratic rights, which have been criticized by
the Union. Opportunities for progress in membership
negotiations have been impaired by, among other things,
these measures. Turkey's invasion of northern Syria in 2019
has subsequently contributed to the negotiations being
completely on ice.
The judiciary is structured according to a secular,
western model. The Constitutional Court consists of 15
judges. Of these, three are appointed by Parliament and 12
by the President. The term of office for a judge is 12
years, with no possibility of extension, and the mandatory
retirement age is 65 years. The Court of Appeal, which is
the highest court in general cases, comprises about 390
judges and is divided into sections for criminal cases and
Paragraph 301 of the Turkish Penal Code was introduced in
2005 and made it a crime to insult "Turkish". It has been
used to prosecute writers and journalists, especially in
connection with their statements about the Armenian genocide
of 1915-17, which has never officially been recognized as
such by the Turkish regime.
Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink (1954-2007) was
facing trial in accordance with this section when he was
assassinated by Turkish nationalists in January 2007. After
the assassination, the section was modified in 2008 to refer
to derogatory statements about the Turkish nation. However,
international criticism, including the European Court of
Justice, remains directed against the provision which is
deemed to violate freedom of expression.
Military courts were abolished in 2017.
The death penalty for crimes of peacetime was abolished
in 2002 as part of Turkey's approach to the EU; the last
execution was carried out in 1984.
Although human rights, including social benefits, are
guaranteed by Turkish legislation, these have been eroded
during the 2010s, not least during the 2016-18 state of
emergency and after the constitutional amendment 2018 (see
State law and policy).
Turkey has been criticized by the European Parliament,
among others, for lack of respect for human rights because
of the government's crackdown on media and the arrest of
suspected opponents, including Kurdish politicians.
Following the state of emergency, a law on terrorism was
introduced which allows those arrested to be detained for up
to 12 days. Opposition parties have become more difficult to
operate and a number of government-critical media have been
forced to close down their operations. In 2019, Turkey was
ranked 157 out of 180 in Reporters Without Borders Press
The rule of law shows major shortcomings. People are held
captive for long periods without trial and without
clarifying the charges against them. Impunity exists for
public figures or members of the security forces.
Accusations of torture or other abuses, especially the
detention, are left without action.
Violence against women, including so-called honor
killings, is a significant problem, as is the presence of
child marriage. Wife trafficking is not prohibited or
defined in the legislative text, but in 2013 Turkey ratified
the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and
Control of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.
LGBTQ people are subjected to a great deal of discrimination
as well as violence.
Turkey's Roma (estimated at just over 2 million) have
limited access to education, health care and housing.
Heads of State
|about 1300 - about 1326
|about 1326 - about 1360
||Mehmet I Çelebi 2
|1402-1403 or 1404
||İsa Çelebi 3
||S邦leyman Çelebi 4
||Musa Çelebi 4
||Mehmet II (Conqueror)
||S邦leyman I (the Great)
||Mustafa Kemal (Kemal Atat邦rk)
||Kemal G邦rsel 5
||İhsan Sabri Çağlayangil
||Kenan Evren 6
||Ahmet Necdet Sezer
||Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
1 The title of sultan is first invented in
2 After Beyazit I was captured by the Mongols in
1402, the Ottoman Empire was divided between his sons. In
the ensuing power struggle in 1413, the ruler of Anatolia,
Mehmet I Çelebi, triumphed.
3 Rulers in Bursa.
4 Rulers in Romania.
5 From 1960 to 61 Kemal G邦rsel was the leader of
a military government (chairman of the National Unity
6 Kenan Evren chaired the National Security
Council in 1980-89. He was elected President in 1982.