Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: A History


on january 11

2017 a brawl broke out on the floor of

turkey's parliament

over a constitutional reform bill which

would change the structure of government

from a parliamentary democracy to a

strong executive presidency

the bill is up for a popular vote on

april 16th and it's shaping up as a

referendum on president rajiv tayyip


whose islamic leanings have put him at

odds with many in turkey's old political

elite and civil society

here's a look at his political career

over the last two and a half decades

in march 1994 mr erdogan is elected

mayor of istanbul

he bans alcohol sales in some of the

city's cafes

which some of turkey's political elite

see as a sign that mr erdogan

wants to islamicize society turkey

secularism is written into their

constitution but many welcome the


four years later he is convicted of

inciting religious hatred because of a

poem he read during a political rally

mr erdogan serves four months in jail

and is banned from holding office for


in august 2001 mr erdogan along with

political leaders and businessmen

formed the justice and development party


with ambitious goals to open turkey to

europe and the world

on november 3rd 2002 the awk party

sweeps to victory in a national election

and in december turkey's parliament

reverses the bans against mr erdogan

a few months later he enters parliament

and is named the country's prime


in the next general election on july

22nd 2007

mr erdogan's ruling party dominates with


of the vote the election hardens divides

between turkey's secular elite

and the majority or religious muslims on

june 12

2011 mr erdogan and the ag party win a

third consecutive national election

strengthened by their social reforms and

free-market policies

that have attracted record amounts of

foreign investment

another key to the act party's success

is the close political relationship

between the party

and turkish religious leader fethullah

gulen in october 2013

the awk party overturns what's known as

the headscarf man that had prevented

religiously observant women from

attending university and taking jobs in

the civil service

but later that year prosecutors and

judges leak a corruption investigation

against four turkish ministers and some

erdogan confidants

including his son sparking widespread


mr erdogan believes fethullah gulen is

to blame for orchestrating the probe

and erdogan starts official

investigations against gulen

and his followers in turkey mr erdogan

and others

say there is no merit to the corruption

allegations against

them and the original investigation is



in august 2014 mr erdogan becomes


first popularly elected president but

his position is weakened

the akp temporarily loses its

parliamentary majority

peace talks with the kurdish rebels

break down

arab and western fighters use turkey as

a gateway to join islamic state and

other groups

terror attacks become more and more

frequent syrian refugees

pour over the border the currency


then on july 15 2016

a military coup attempt shakes the

country to its core

president erdogan is seen as a rallying

point for citizens against a violent


but that unity is short-lived erdogan

enacts a state of emergency

tens of thousands of suspected coup

sympathizers and political opponents are


more than 150 000 turks are summarily

fired from jobs

without evidence of wrongdoing turkey

becomes the world's leading jailer of


and the government closes 160 media


this is where we are now as turkey

decides whether to centralize power in

the executive branch

and possibly allow mr erdogan to rule

for another decade

it's unclear what will happen if the

referendum is rejected

turkey's future hangs in the balance