In 1992, just after independence from the Soviet Union,
Turkmenistan adopted a constitution that declared the
country to be a unified state and presidential republic.
Officially, the country also became a multi-party democracy.
The Constitution has subsequently undergone several changes.
The system of governance in Turkmenistan is divided into
three - an executive government, a legislative authority
added to the National Assembly (Majlis), and a legal body
consisting of the Supreme Court. Another important body of
government is the Elderly Council which assists the
The president is both the head of state and the head of
government. The term of office is five years, and the
members of the government are all appointed by the
president. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how TM can stand for Turkmenistan.
Current President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov came to
power in the Republic's second presidential election in
2007. He received 89 percent of the vote. For the first
time, there were several candidates to choose from, but they
all belonged to the same party (Democratic Party of
Turkmenistan) and all wanted a continuation of the policies
of the late President Saparmurat Niyazov - who had been in
power since the Soviet era.
At Turkmenistan's last presidential election, February
12, 2012, Berdymukhamedov was re-elected for five new years.
According to official Turkmen sources, he received 97
percent support and turnout was 95 percent. Officially,
Turkmen had eight candidates to choose from, but these were
all nominated by the sitting government and they represented
the same party.
Despite elections and democratic declarations,
Turkmenistan remains a totalitarian one-party state. In
reality, all power is centralized and unified with the
president. Human rights organizations around the world
criticize the country for corruption, human rights
violations and a lack of democracy. Freedom House ranks
Turkmenistan in the "non-free" category along with North
Korea, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Eritrea, Myanmar
and Equatorial Guinea.
The National Assembly (Mejlis) consists of 125
representatives elected every five years. The last election
was held in 2008 and the next election is scheduled for
December 2013. All members of the National Assembly belong
to the same party as President Berdymukhamedov -
"Turkmenistan Democratic Party".
When former President Niyazov died in 2006,
Berdymukhamedov was temporarily appointed president by the
powerful legislative body called the People's Council (Halk
Maslakhaty). A reform in 2008 abolished the People's
Council, which consisted of 2507 members who met twice a
year. The People's Council had considerable power, including
approving candidates for the presidential election. The
council also had the authority to dissolve Mejlis. In 2008,
doubts were raised about the efficiency and political
utility of the People's Council and it was resolved to
remove it. At the same time, the National Assembly was
decidedly expanded from 65 to 125 members, in addition to
taking over several of the Peoples Council's previous
authority and tasks (eg ratification of international
agreements). The previous responsibilities of the People's
Council were thus divided between the National Assembly and
the President. After 2008, for example.
Although Turkmenistan officially declared itself a
multi-party democracy after independence in 1991, all
attempts at opposition have been halted. Niyazov claimed
that the opposition parties lacked both popular support and
political programs, and he refused to allow them to
register. In reality, there is still only one party in
Turkmenistan, and most oppositionists live in other
countries, mainly in Russia.
After independence, the Turkmen Communist Party was
renamed the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan (DPT), and
Niyazov continued as party leader. The DPT feeds Communists'
usual suspicion of Islamic fundamentalism, and an important
issue is to prevent social and nationalist conflicts that
have arisen in other US republics. The party program
emphasizes the importance of maintaining stability, civil
peace and interethnic dialogue.
Following the 2012 presidential election, Parliament
passed a law to form the basis for the establishment of
According to the Constitution, the courts must be
independent. They are presided over by a Supreme Court
consisting of 22 judges. These are appointed by the
President every five years.
Administratively, Turkmenistan is divided into five
regions, so-called Velajats: Akhal, Balkan, Dashoguz, Lebap
Regional executive is exercised by the president's
representatives (khyakims). There are also Regional People's
Councils elected for four years.
The regions are divided into 50 districts, so-called
stages. The capital is located in the region of Akhal.