AuthorKaran, Ula?
The national legal system
Following snap presidential elections on 24 June 2018, Turkey formally transitioned from
a long-standing parliamentary system to a so-called presidential system which, according
to the Venice Commission, constitutes ‘an excessive concentration of executive powers in
the hands of the President and the weakening of parliamentary control of that power’.16
The President now h as unsupervised and exclusive powers to (inter alia) appoint and
dismiss ministers and high-ranking state officials, dissolve the Parliament on any grounds
and declare a state of emergency and issue decrees on ‘matters necessitated’ by any such
emergency. The President also has the power to appoint 4 of the 13 members of the Council
of Judges and Prosecutors, which oversees the appointment, promotion and dismissal of
judges and public prosecutors. These changes are, the Venice Commission said, a decisive
move ‘towards an authoritarian and personal regime’,17 wiping out any remnants of
democracy and the rule of law in Turkey. While the Parliament’s power to make laws is
non-derogable, the President now has wide de facto legislative powers by virtue of his
authority to issue presidential decrees on ‘matters relating to executive powers’. The
further weakening of the Parliament, where Opposition deputies could at the very least
introduce progressive legal amendments and submit queries to the executive, has
eradicated the already limited oversight of the Government on human rights issues in
general and anti-discrimination in particular. Combating discrimination was not on the
Government’s agenda in 2019. In respect of discrimination, the only policy determined has
been to strengthen the Turkish Human Rights and Equality Institution in terms of staff,
financial, technical and physical infrastructure in order to make it more effective and
functional, but that was not put into practice in 2019.18 The Annual Presidential Programme
for 2019 did not specifically take into account the problems and needs of disadvantage
groups. The only group to which it explicitly referred was persons with disabilities, and in
the absence of concrete aims and targets, it was far from being effective in that regard.
Since July 2018, Turkey has been ruled by a so-called presidential system that disregards
the constitutional principles of the separation of powers, constitutional review and the
supremacy of the Parliament in law-making. During the emergency regime, which was
declared on 21 July 2016 in response to the coup attempt and lifted on 19 July 2018, the
Constitutional Court refrained from exercising the power it had granted itself in 199119 to
review the temporal, geographical and substantive compatibility of emergency decrees
with the boundaries of emergency rule.20 A total of 32 executive decrees having the force
of law were a dopted during the emergency rule.21 All of those decrees were approved by
the Turkish Parliament. Three of the decrees has been subject to review by the
16 Venice Commission, Opinion on the amendments to the Constitution adopted by the Grand National
Assembly on 21 January 2017 and to be submitted to a national referendum on 16 April 2017, CDL-
AD(2017)005, 13 March 2017, para. 47, available at:
17 Venice Commission, Opinion on the amendments to the Constitution adopted by the Grand National
Assembly on 21 January 2017 and to be submitted to a national referendum on 16 April 2017, CDL-
AD(2017)005, 13 March 2017, para. 133, available at:
18 Presidency of the Republic of Turkey (2018), Annual Presidential Programme 2019 (2019 Yılı
Cumhurbaşkanlığı Yıllık Programı) p. 98, available at:
content/uploads/2018/11/2019_Yili_Cumhurbaskanligi_Yillik_Programi.pdf. Also available in Official Gazette,
27 October 2018.
19 Constitutional Court, E. 1990/25, K. 1991/1, 10 January 1991; E. 1991/6, K. 1991/20, 3 July 1991.
20 Constitutional Court, E. 2016/166, K. 2016/159, 12 October 2016; E. 2016/167, K. 2016/160, 12 October
2016; E. 2016/171, K. 2016/164, 2 November 2016; E. 2016/172, K. 2016/165, 2 November 2016.
21 Erem, O., OHAL sona erdi: İki yıllık sürecin bilançosu’ (‘The emergency rule has ended: The balance of the
two years’ process’), BBC Türkçe, 19 July 2018, available at:

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