Turkey profile - Leaders

  • 9 June 2015
  • From the section Europe

President: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Mr Erdogan seeks to establish a powerful executive presidency

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was sworn in as president in August 2014, cementing his position as Turkey's most powerful leader.

His victory in Turkey's first popular presidential election capped 12 years as prime minister in which the economy tripled in dollar terms, while fuelling fears of growing authoritarianism.

Turkey is a parliamentary republic and the presidency largely ceremonial, so Mr Erdogan announced plans to amend the constitution to establish an executive presidency if his Islamist AK Party won a large majority in the June 2015 elections.

Critics warn that this would concentrate too much power in the hands of a leader with autocratic instincts, and lead the EU-candidate country ever further from the secular ideals of the republic's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

A strong showing by the new, pro-Kurdish left-wing People's Democratic Party (HDP), deprived the AK of its parliamentary majority and checked Mr Erdogan's ambitions, at least for the time being.


Mr Erdogan became prime minister in 2003. He brought economic and political stability to Turkey and faced down the country's powerful military establishment, which previously tended to overthrow elected governments it suspected of challenging the secular constitution or national security.

Steady military pressure combined with negotiations also brought the Kurdish rebel PKK group to a truce that provided for a withdrawal of all PKK fighters to Iraq from May 2013.

In the summer of 2013 Mr Erdogan briefly looked under pressure for the first time as mass anti-government protests erupted in several cities, further inflamed by the violent police response.

Later that year, the government was hit by a police inquiry into alleged corruption among the prime minister's allies.

However, he bounced back with success in both local and presidential elections in 2014.

The police corruption probes unleashed a fierce power struggle between Mr Erdogan and his erstwhile ally, the influential reclusive US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Mr Erdogan accused Mr Gulen of running a "state within a state" and of using the cleric's allies in the police and judiciary to oust him with the help of corruption inquiries.

Prime Minister: Ahmet Davutoglu

Ahmet Davutoglu was installed as prime minister in 2014 as predecessor Recep Tayyip Erdogan's handpicked successor.

Mr Davutoglu has a long track record as an Islamist politician and is an Erdogan loyalist.

In his previous job as foreign minister, he was seen as the architect of Turkey's then "zero problems with neighbours" policy, which was all but abandoned after the Arab Spring uprisings.

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