Turkey (or the Republic of Turkey, as it’s officially known) is a country situated in Western Asia, with a smaller part of the country in Southeast Europe. Turkey shares borders with eight countries: Greece and Bulgaria (northwest), Georgia (northeast), Armenia, Nakhchivan and Iran (east), and Iraq and Syria (south). The Aegean Sea borders Turkey to the west, while the Black Sea is to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea is to the south. Ankara is the capital of Turkey but Istanbul is its largest city.
Turkey is a member of multiple international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, the IMF and the World Bank. It is also a founding member of the OECD, OSCE, BSEC, OIC and G-20. Turkey is a regional power with geopolitical and strategic importance due to its central geographical location. Turkey is a formerly parliamentary republic which became a presidential country in 2017. The current Turkish administration is working towards increasing the influence of Islam in the country, and has reversed a number of earlier reforms such as the freedom of the press.
The legislative branch
Turkey was a parliamentary representative democracy until 2018 when a new presidential system was adopted following a referendum in 2017, effectively granting the President (who is head of state) total control of the executive – as such, he has the power to issue decrees, appoint his own cabinet, form the budget, dissolve parliament early, and fill the courts with his own appointees. All powers of the Prime Minister and his cabinet were also abolished and transferred directly to the President, who is elected for a five-year term. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the first president of Turkey, who was elected by direct voting. The constitution of Turkey establishes it as a unitary centralised state.
All executive power is wielded by the President; legislative power is bestowed on Turkey’s unicameral parliament, which is called the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The judicial branch of the Turkish government was independent before the referendum in 2017, after which its powers were greatly reduced as more were transferred to the President, who is now responsible for appointing or dismissing judges.
600 members of parliament are elected for four-year terms through a proportional representation system drawn from 85 electoral districts. The Constitutional Court has the power to deduct public financing from (or ban) political parties that appear anti-secular or separatist.
In order to be represented in the Turkish Parliament, a party must have at least 10% of the national vote in a parliamentary election. Independent candidates can run for election, and must win enough to get one seat.
As a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey is obligated to stand by the European Charter of Local Self-Government. However, the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe found significant deficits in the implementation of the charter’s policies in Turkey in 2011.
Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has become increasingly authoritarian. The Council of Europe had noted with concern that Turkey’s autocratic tendencies were increasing even before the 2017 referendum, and since the change in governmental system in the country, trepidation has increased in the European Union in regards to Turkey’s democratic stability.
The executive branch
Since the 2017 referendum, the president of Turkey is largely in control of most aspects of government in the country. Constitutionally, the president must be over 40 years old and must hold a bachelor’s degree, but he is not required to be a member of parliament. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected president in 2014. Executive power is retained by the president and the Council of Ministers, with most ministers being members of Parliament. prime minister is appointed by the president and approved through a vote of confidence (güvenoyu) in the parliament.
The judicial branch
The freedom and power of the Turkish judicial branch was greatly reduced after the constitutional reforms of the 2017 referendum came into effect in 2018, with many powers transferred to the president.
The Turkish Constitutional Court rules on the conformity of constitutional laws and decrees, while the Council of State is effectively the last resort for administrative cases – the High Court of Appeals exists for all other cases.
Turkey is willing to accept the European Court of Human Rights' decisions as long as they don’t relate to the occupation of northern Cyprus.