Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been receiving growing criticism for resorting to presidential decrees as a means of bypassing parliament, issuing 71 such decrees since assuming the top state office for a second time in 2018.
Presidential decrees were introduced in Turkey in the aftermath of a bloody coup in 1980. The coup’s leader, Kenan Evren, who served as president between 1980 and 1989, issued only one presidential decree during his time in office.
During the 27th legislative term, which began in July 2018, the Turkish Parliament approved bills that included 2,110 articles, while Erdoğan has issued decrees comprising 2,311 articles in the same period.
The controversial practice of presidential decrees came to public attention once again after Erdoğan pulled Turkey out of an international treaty on combatting domestic violence via a presidential decree issued on early Saturday. Many accused Erdoğan of disregarding the parliament and described such presidential decrees null and void, saying that one person cannot decide on behalf of the nation.
Turkey’s current Constitution, the 1982 Constitution, limited the scope of presidential decrees with the organizational structure of the presidency; however, after Turkey effectively switched from a parliamentary system to a presidential system of governance in 2018, the president was granted vast powers.
Turkey approved in a 2017 referendum the transition from the parliamentary system to a presidential system although there were widespread concerns about the separation of powers under the new system. Erdoğan, who was elected for a second term in the presidential election of 2018, became Turkey’s first president under the presidential system.
As he was campaigning for passage of the referendum, Erdoğan was promising that Turkey would not lose time in pressing ahead with necessary legislation under the presidential system. Erdoğan issues decrees on a wide range of issues such as national palaces, the Space Agency, membership on Turkey’s central bank board and the support of crime victims.
Erdoğan has long been accused of creating a one-man rule in Turkey, silencing dissent and taking the country’s judiciary and media under his control.