Political system of Turkey

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The Turkey is a since 1923 Republic . According to Article 2 of the Constitution , Turkey is a democratic , secular and social constitutional state . The Republic of Turkey was founded under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk . Its current constitution came into effect on November 7, 1982. The current president is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan . In the referendum in April 2017 , the voters voted with a narrow majority in favor of converting the parliamentary system of government that had existed since 1920 into a presidential system .

According to the democracy index of The Economist magazine , Turkey achieved a little over four points on a scale from zero to ten in 2019, placing it as a “hybrid regime” between the categories “restricted democracy” and “authoritarian regime”. Turkey has been under the monitoring of the Council of Europe since April 2017 .

Historical development

Beginnings of the Republic

The Turkish Republic goes back to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk . On October 29, 1923, the Turkish Grand National Assembly proclaimed the establishment of the republic. On May 24, 1924, the first constitution of the republic came into force. The state was based on the Kemalism named after it . The caliphate was abolished and any institutional and legal influence by religious authorities on the state was prohibited. Religious norms were abolished in public life, rather religion was subjected to the supervision of the state. With the local elections in Turkey in 1930 , elections within the framework of a multi-party system were held for the first time in the 800-year Turkish and Ottoman history .

In 1937 the 6 principles of Kemalism were enshrined in the constitution. In a weakened and generalized form ("imbued ... with the spirit of Ataturk's reforms") they can still be found today in the preamble of the Turkish constitution and the state objectives in Article 2. In 1945, under the second President İsmet İnönü , a multiparty system was finally reintroduced. After the election victory of the opposition Democratic Party in 1950, Turkey initially developed into a parliamentary democracy .

Military intervention

The Turkish military has until now three times ge to power putscht ( 1960 -1961, 1971 -1973, and finally 1980 -1983), ostensibly to stop the ever-recurring political crises. The military coups of 1960 and 1980 led to the introduction of a new constitution (Turkish constitutions of 1961 and 1982 ). The 1982 constitution is the current one. In 1997, nonviolent military intervention (this time the National Security Council was used) led to the resignation of the Necmettin Erbakan government and the ban on its Welfare Party (RP) in 1998.

Ambitions to join the EU

Turkey started official accession negotiations with the European Union in October 2005 . One of the obstacles to accession is the controversial human rights situation in Turkey . In order to improve this, several legislative changes (including criminal law ) and constitutional amendments were made. At the constitutional referendum on September 12, 2010 , on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, voters voted for numerous changes to the constitution , which has been in force since 1982, and voted in favor of strengthening equality , strengthening the rights of trade unions and restricting the rights of the Turkish military .

Constitutional referendum 2017

On April 16, 2017, a vote on the constitutional referendum took place in Turkey. A new 18-point law should amend a total of 69 other laws. The change adopted was one of the largest in Turkey's history. Among other things, the office of prime minister has been canceled and the ministers form the government with the state president. Executive powers were also pooled and handed over to the President. All military courts were abolished.

Council of Europe monitoring procedure

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) decided on April 25, 2017 to reintroduce a monitoring procedure for Turkey until “serious concerns” about compliance with human rights, democracy and the rule of law are “satisfactorily resolved”.

The resolution adopted by the Council of Europe calls on the Turkish authorities to take urgent measures such as

  • to lift the state of emergency "as soon as possible",
  • "Except when absolutely necessary" no longer to issue emergency decrees that circumvent the parliamentary procedure,
  • to release all imprisoned MPs and journalists pending their trial,
  • to ensure fair procedures and compliance with the necessary procedural guarantees and
  • Take urgent measures to restore freedom of expression and freedom of the press,
  • to reverse the mass dismissal of around 150,000 civil servants, judges, police officers and university lecturers carried out after the failed coup.

The adopted text of the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is based on a report by Ingebjørg Godskesen ( Norway , EC) and Marianne Mikko ( Estonia , SOC). The report notes that nine months after the coup attempt, "the situation is worse and measures have gone much further than was necessary and appropriate". The authorities “govern with the help of decrees” which far exceed the requirements of an exceptional situation and which interfere with the legislative competence of parliament. In this context, the Assembly stressed that “the reintroduction of the death penalty would be incompatible with membership of the Council of Europe”.

The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan , called the resolution an "entirely political" decision by the Council of Europe, which he will not recognize.


The currently valid constitution of Turkey was adopted on November 7, 1982. Accordingly, Turkey defines itself as a “democratic, secular and social constitutional state”, which is linked to the “good of the community, national solidarity and justice, human rights and Ataturk's nationalism ”. The legislation rests with the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Article 5 defines the "basic objectives and tasks of the state":

“The basic goals and tasks of the state are to protect the independence and unity of the Turkish people, the indivisibility of the country, the republic and democracy, to ensure prosperity, well-being and happiness of the citizens and the community, the political, economic and to remove social obstacles which restrict the fundamental rights and freedoms of the person in a manner incompatible with the principles of the social rule of law and justice, as well as to endeavor to create the conditions necessary for the development of the material and ideal existence of man. "

Turkey is administered centrally , primarily due to the "national unitary state" enshrined in the constitution . With the provinces, the districts and the municipalities, there are three administrative levels within which individual decisions can also be made to a limited extent. There are 81 provinces ( İl ) whose highest representative is a Vali (governor / prefect). This is appointed by the Minister of the Interior and confirmed by the President. He is also the chairman of the elected provincial assembly. The counties ( İlçe ) are headed by a kaymakam appointed by the Minister of the Interior . The mayors and village heads are elected by the people. The autonomy of the lower administrative levels is limited, among other things, by the lack of their own financial sources.

As a member of the Council of Europe , Turkey is obliged to implement the European Charter of Local Self-Government . However, in 2011 the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe stated that there were still elementary deficits in implementation, in particular administrative tutelage and the ban on the use of local languages ​​other than Turkish, and called for serious implementation efforts.



The President of the State is the head of state of Turkey and acts as the “guardian of the constitution”, who is to oversee the “application of the constitution and the orderly and harmonious activity of the state organs”, Art. 104 para. 1, p. 2 2nd half. the Constitution. Since the constitutional amendment in 2007 , he has been elected by the people for five years, and re-election is possible once. Further details are regulated in the Presidential Election Act (PresWahlG). The Presidential Election Act was passed on January 19, 2012 and came into force on January 26, 2012. Personal requirements are a minimum age of 40 years and a university degree . The candidates do not have to come from parliament, but must be supported by at least twenty members of the National Assembly. According to Article 102, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution, Article 3, Paragraph 2 of the Presidential Election Act, the election of the President of the Republic usually takes place within sixty days prior to the end of the office holder's term of office.

Article 104 of the Turkish constitution regulates the powers of the head of state:

  • He appoints the ministers .
  • He appoints three of the eleven judges of the Constitutional Court alone; he selects the others from three candidates each, who are nominated by the highest courts and the University Council (YÖK).
  • He is the chairman of the National Security Council.
  • On behalf of the National Assembly, he is in command of the army and appoints the chief of staff (Article 117).
  • It decides on the army's deployment abroad, which, however, requires a resolution by parliament.
  • With regard to legislation, he has a substantive right of examination.
  • He can dissolve the National Assembly if he does not trust the Council of Ministers or if it withdraws its trust and no new Council of Ministers can be formed in 45 days.
  • If he deems it necessary, he can even chair the Council of Ministers; however, this does not empower him to set the agenda and take political initiative.

In addition, the president has a suspensive right of veto . He can review laws for their constitutionality and also reject them. The Turkish heads of state who have been in office since 1983 have occasionally made use of this right, which has significantly strengthened their position. However, according to the constitution, it is still possible for parliament to pass the relevant legal text unchanged and finally. In this case, however, the President of the Republic can submit an action for annulment to the Constitutional Court within sixty days .

Government of Turkey, consisting of the President and the Ministers


The government of Turkey has been formed by the President, the Ministers ( Bakanlar ) and the Vice-Presidents (Cumhurbaşkanı yardımcıları) since 2017 . The ministers and vice-presidents are determined by the state president, who can determine the number of vice-presidents himself. The current government of Turkey has provided the Erdoğan IV cabinet since July 2018. There are 16 ministries. Each ministry is headed by a minister and three deputy ministers.

See also: Ministries of Turkey

legislative branch

Great National Assembly of Turkey

The Turkish Parliament is the Grand National Assembly of Turkey ( Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi ). According to Article 75 of the Constitution, since 2018 it has consisted of 600 members. It is elected for 5 years with a 10 percent threshold . The parliament can resolve new elections before the end of the five-year legislative period . The elections (1991, 1995, 1999, 2002, 2007 and 2015) took place early.

The National Assembly makes the fundamental decisions that govern everyday political, economic, social and legal life in the state. Your tasks are:

  • Pass laws
  • to change the constitution
  • to adopt the state budget
  • to authorize the Council of Ministers to issue ordinances with the force of law
  • ratify international treaties (Article 90)
  • to permit the declaration of war in certain cases (Article 92)

In addition, the Turkish constitution contains detailed regulations on the incompatibility between certain offices in the government and the judiciary, as well as the mandate of parliament. MEPs enjoy immunity and indemnity (Article 83).

According to Article 80 , Parliament and its members, who exercise a free mandate , represent the entire nation. Party politics is carried into parliament through the parliamentary groups. A political group must have at least 20 members. The parliamentary group chairmanship is exercised by the party chairman if he is a member of the National Assembly.

The National Assembly is also the master of the legislative process. The legislative initiatives are introduced by MPs or the Council of Ministers (Article 88) and must be justified. The President has the right to review: He reviews the law with regard to the procedure and its substantive constitutionality.

Current composition

See: Grand National Assembly of Turkey


The judiciary in Turkey consists of civil courts (Adli Yargı Mahkemeleri), administrative courts (İdari Yargı Mahkemeleri), supreme courts (Yüksek Mahkemeler) and the Court of Auditors (Sayıştay).

Legal system

Turkey has adopted European law in many areas; so based civil law on the regulations of Switzerland . The model for the Turkish penal code was originally the Italian counterpart. Since the reforms in 2005, Turkish criminal law has been based predominantly on German law, with influences from France, Italy, Poland, Russia and the United States of America being among the most important. International agreements, such as the Rome Statute , were also incorporated into the reforms .

Constitutional jurisdiction

There has been a constitutional court with a senate since the constitution of 1961 . The judges are elected for life and do not have to be re-elected. The Constitutional Court has three main tasks:

  1. The review of laws and ordinances with legal force (Art. 150 and 152)
  2. The function of the State Court of Justice ( Yüce Divan ) according to Article 148 of the Constitution
  3. The ban on political parties (Art. 148)

A constitutional complaint, which makes up over 90 percent of the work of the constitutional court in Germany, is not provided for under Turkish law. For this reason the European Court of Human Rights is of great importance for Turks.

National Security Council and Military

The roots of the National Security Council ( milli güvenlik kurulu ) go back to the 1940s. It has also been anchored in the constitution since 1961. The National Security Council acts as an advisory body on questions of internal and external security. The Council comes into action particularly when the principles of the Turkish Republic appear to be in jeopardy - especially in the case of the strict separation between state and religion (secularism) introduced by the founder of the Republic, Kemal Ataturk. According to Article 118 of the Turkish Constitution, the members of the Council are the Commander-in-Chief of the Army , Navy , Air Force and Gendarmerie , the Chief of Staff , the Prime Minister, his deputies, the Foreign , Interior and Defense Ministers and, as chairman of the Council, the President .

The National Security Council deliberates every two months on domestic and foreign policy.

The military sees its task not only in protecting external , but also internal security and sees itself, for example, as the “guardian of Kemalism”.

However, the role of the National Security Council has been limited by the reforms since 2001:

  • The National Security Council now meets every two months (instead of once a month)
  • The civil-to-military ratio in the Council is now 7: 5
  • He only makes recommendations
  • Non-military officials can provide the general secretary

Electoral system and elections

The electoral system in Turkey is a combination of proportional and majority voting . As in many European countries, there is also a threshold clause in Turkish electoral law : if a party receives less than ten percent of the votes cast nationwide, these votes are not taken into account at the national level. The parties that address the Kurdish minority in the east and south-east of Turkey are particularly affected . This means that no direct candidates can be elected whose party cuts below the threshold. Independent candidates who run without the support of a party or a list are excluded.

One of the 600 parliamentary mandates is awarded to each of the 81 Turkish provinces . The candidate with the most votes is elected directly to parliament for his province, provided his party passes the 10 percent hurdle. The remaining mandates are distributed according to the population of the provinces.

There is no replacement procedure for outgoing MPs. If more than five percent - currently 28 - of the MPs have resigned, their mandates will be reassigned by election. These by-elections take place no earlier than 30 months after and no later than one year before the general elections.

In principle, all citizens over the age of 18 who can cast their vote in general, equal, secret and direct elections are entitled to vote. However, the following are not entitled to vote:

  • Soldiers and garrison officers
  • Students in a military school
  • Prisoners convicted of deliberate crimes
  • limited legal capacity
  • People who have been excluded from the public service

Voting at Turkish border crossings is possible. Since March 22, 2008, Turkish citizens living abroad can also vote. They can cast their votes in parliamentary elections, presidential elections and referendums. In parliamentary elections, Turks abroad can only vote for political parties, but not for independent candidates. Voters can cast their vote either by postal vote, by balloting in a Turkish embassy or consulate or via the Internet (stating the “citizen number”).

Anyone who wants to be elected to parliament must be at least 25 years old, have a primary school certificate and - as a man - have done military service. According to the electoral law, parliamentary elections take place every five years on the second Sunday in October (except for extraordinary new elections). The election campaign cannot begin until ten days before the election date. In addition, voting is compulsory , which means that voter turnout is usually very high. Those who do not vote have to pay a fine of around 13 euros.


Kemal Ataturk's Republican People's Party (CHP) formed the beginning of the Turkish parties . From 1946 there was a multi-party system. There have been and are many changes in the Turkish party system, for example the constitutional court banning parties; it is mainly about Islamist parties. Judges, soldiers, students, prosecutors and most other officials are not allowed to join parties. The parties must respect secularism and nationalism and have a party program that corresponds to a free democratic order .

The main parties with more than 1% of votes in the 2007 parliamentary election, in order of the result:

Name and year of foundation Translation and miscellaneous political direction and important members
Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP, 2001) Justice and Recovery Party (current ruling party) Islamic-conservative, economically liberal, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (incumbent president, chairman of the party)
Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (CHP, 1923) Republican People's Party ( Ataturk 's party , state party until 1946) Kemalist, social democratic, secular; Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (MP and chairman of the party)
Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi (MHP, 1948) Nationalist Movement Party nationalist, right-wing extremist party; Devlet Bahçeli (MP and chairman of the party)
Democrat Parti (DP, 2007) Democratic Party secular-conservative, successor party to the Right Way Party (DYP) founded in 1983
Genç Parti (GP, 2002) Boy party nationalist
Saadet Partisi (SP) Party of bliss Islamist
Halkların Demokratie Partisi (HDP, 2012) Democratic Party of the Peoples social democratic, pluralistic, feminist, anti-capitalist, egalitarian, ecological; Advocate of Kurdish minority rights;

Selahattin Demirtaş (Co-Chair)

Other parties, currently of lesser importance (less than 1% of the votes in the 2007 parliamentary election or not run):

Name and year of foundation Translation and miscellaneous political direction and important members
Anavatan Partisi (ANAP, 1983; dissolved) Motherland Party right-wing liberal; joined in the fall of 2010 with the DYP to DP together
Bağımsız Türkiye Partisi (BTP) Independent Turkey Party Islamic nationalist
Democracy Sol Parti (DSP) Democratic Left Party social-democratic, democratic-socialist; Zeki Sezer
Özgürlük ve Dayanışma Partisi (ÖDP) Party of Freedom and Solidarity socialist, communist

Prohibited Parties

A total of 29 parties have been banned since the Republic of Turkey was founded . The Terakkiperver Cumhuriyet Fırkası was dissolved on June 5, 1925, making it the first banned party. The last party ban was on December 11th, 2009, when the Democracy Toplum Partisi ( party of the democratic society ) was banned .

On March 14, 2008, Prosecutor General Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya filed for prohibition proceedings against the AKP . The justification for the procedure was that the AKP had become a “center of anti-secular activities”. The case was brought before the Constitutional Court of Turkey. The attorney general called for a political ban on 71 people, including Turkish President Abdullah Gül, Turkish Prime Minister and AKP Chairman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and former Parliament President Bülent Arınç .

The deputy spokesman for the German government, Thomas Steg , declared on March 17, 2008 that the AKP was a clearly democratic party that had emerged from free, fair and democratic parliamentary elections in 2007 as the strongest party. The action of the attorney general is directed against the will of the Turkish people. The federal government has confidence in the democratic and constitutional principles in Turkey and is assuming that the Turkish constitutional court will not comply with the incomprehensible request.

On July 30, 2008, the ban was rejected. Six of the eleven judges voted for a ban, which narrowly missed the required number of seven votes. Four other judges voted for a warning for "anti-secular activities". In a second ballot, 10 judges voted in favor of warning the AKP because it was “the center for anti-secular activities in Turkey”; only one judge voted against. The party is thus allowed to continue to govern, although in accordance with Art. 69 of the constitution, state support for the AKP is partially denied.

Current situation

Situation after the coup attempt in 2016 and conversion to a presidential system

Since the attempted coup on July 15, 2016, there has been a state of emergency in Turkey , which parliament has so far regularly extended by three months. As a result, the constitutional reality in Turkey is far removed from a parliamentary system and corresponds to a presidential system , but in contrast to the ideal-typical presidential system of government, the cabinet, chaired by the president, can issue decrees with (provisional) legal force.

The constitution-amending Act No. 6771, which was passed by a narrow majority in a referendum on April 16, 2017, amends the constitution in 18 points, of which a total of 69 articles are affected. The main change is the strengthening of the president. The changes will take effect from the next legislative period, which is expected to start in November 2019. OSCE election observers complained a. the imprisonment of numerous journalists and opposition activists, as well as intimidation and threats against the “no” camp.

In April 2017, the Council of Europe placed Turkey under full surveillance for the first time in 13 years. Over two thirds of the delegates (113 out of 170) voted to resume so-called monitoring. This means that two rapporteurs visit Turkey on a regular basis to check compliance with human rights and the rule of law in the country. The reason for this step was the long-lasting state of emergency, collective dismissals of state employees such as teachers, academics and judges as well as the arrest of parliamentarians and journalists. The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the decision as politically motivated and blamed "evil circles" for it. European Minister Ömer Celik described the resolution as a "historical mistake".

The new constitution should come into force with the new elections for parliament and president, which were scheduled for November 2019. Erdogan moved both elections on April 18, 2018 to June 24, 2018 ( parliamentary election 2018 , presidential election 2018 ). The opposition hardly had time to prepare for and campaign for election.

Erdogans put its 2018 presidential election campaign under the motto "Hedef 2023" (target 2023). He promised that Turkey would advance among the ten largest economic nations in the world in 2023, 100 years after the founding of the republic.

The situation since July 2018

The constitution , adopted on April 16, 2017, entered into force in July 2018. With the extended rights of the executive, especially the President, nothing has changed significantly compared to the two-year state of emergency . President Erdogan governs with a coalition of the AKP and MHP. His fourth government was sworn in on July 9, 2018.

Shortly afterwards, the national currency, the lira , collapsed ( currency and debt crisis 2018 ); possibly diplomatic tensions between the USA and Turkey contributed to this.

The country and its economy have been suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey since April 2020 ; the tourism industry is badly affected. The exchange rate of the lira fell by a quarter against the euro from the beginning of 2020 to August 2020, an all-time low. Inflation is around twelve percent. For Turkey, which has a high import quota (i.e. more dependent on imports than other countries), this has considerable consequences: imports have become more expensive, corporate profits and purchasing power have fallen. Erdogan, however, has been resisting rate hikes for years. He claimed that they could dampen the economy and lead to inflation.

Turkey's foreign policy


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  • Gazi Çağlar : Turkey between Orient and Occident: a political analysis of its past and present. Unrast, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-89771-016-1 .
  • Brigitte Moser, Michael Weithmann: Country Studies Turkey. History, society, culture. Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-87548-491-5 .
  • Yunus Yoldaş : The political system of Turkey. (European university publications: series 31, political science; 557), Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Vienna 2008, ISBN 978-3-631-57683-0 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Turkey  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations