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Turkey: A Brief Political Overview

Özgür Çelik

Özgür Çelik

Özgür Çelik is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (Turkey).

Özgür was born and raised in Turkey. He is a passionate teacher, who loves teaching a lot. For him, teaching is not just a job, but a lifestyle.

Özgür is also interested in translation and literature. He believes that there's always something to learn from everyone.
Özgür Çelik

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The Republic of Turkey which serves as a bridge between Europe and Asia, both geographically and culturally, is a special country surrounded by sea on three sides.  With its distinctive culture, historical richness, natural beauties, landmarks and warm locals, Turkey attracts countless visitors from around the world.  Furthermore, this 95-year-old republic has a very dynamic past.  In this article, I will share a brief timeline of Turkey’s political history.

Pre-Republic Period:

The Ottoman Empire, which spread across three continents during its existence, ruled Turkey between 1299-1922.  After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Turkey was founded as a continuation of the Empire though with a different regime.

After losing the WWI, the Ottoman Empire signed the Mondros Armistice, which opened the way for an occupation of the Ottoman States.  Anatolian people didn’t accept this takeover, hence they formed into various resistance groups across every main city.

In the beginning, these groups were quite disorganized, since they didn’t have any weapons or experienced commanders.  However, Mustafa Kemal began railing up Anatolian protesters to start a national resistance movement.  He managed to galvanize a resistance army, called ‘Kuvay-i Milliye,’ and hence the War of Independence began.

Despite the lack of war equipment and poverty, Turkish people made great progress during the war.  In fact, on July 24, 1923, the Lausanne Peace Treaty finally proclaimed that the occupying forces lost the battle.

On October 29, 1923, the Republic of Turkey was founded.  Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was elected as its first President and the country went into a vast westernization process with several important reforms made by Atatürk.

Turkish flag - Global StorybookTurkey’s Brief Political Timeline: 

The 1920s

November 1, 1922: Sultanate was abolished to prepare for a new regime.

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October 29, 1923: The Republic of Turkey was founded, and the new regime was proclaimed.  Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was elected as the first President of Turkey.

March 3, 1924: The title of Caliph, who used to be accepted as a civil and religious ruler of Islam, was abolished.

March 8, 1924: Sharia Court, which was based on Islamic rules, was terminated.

April 20, 1924: The first Constitution was introduced.

November 25, 1925: A headgear and dress reform was made.  The Ottoman fez was banned, and the officers were now obliged to wear Western hats.

November 30, 1925: Islamic dervish lodges were closed.

March 1, 1926: A new penal law was accepted, based on the Italian Zanardelli law.

October 4, 1926: The first Civil Code was accepted.  It was influenced by the Swedish Civil Code.  In this civil code, men-women equality, civil marriage obligations, and monogamy marriages were established.

November 1, 1928: New Turkish alphabet, based on a Latin script, was adopted.  Prior to the new alphabet, Turks were using the Ottoman alphabet which came from an Arabic script.

Turkish couple in national costume - Global StorybookThe 1930s

July 1932: Turkey was admitted to the League of Nations.

December 5, 1934: Women gained the right to vote and being elected to the government.

February 5, 1937: The secularism principle was added to the constitution of Turkey.

November 10, 1938: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk passed away.

November 11, 1938: İsmet İnönü was elected as the second President of Turkey, after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who had been elected four times prior.

September 1, 1939: The start of WWII.  Turkey remained neutral during the World War II.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, President of Turkey, 1923-1938

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the first President of Turkey, 1923-1938 Photo: Everett Historical/

The 1940s

October 24, 1945: Turkey joined the United Nations.

July 21, 1946: The first election of a multi-party government was made.  Republican’s “People’s Party” won the election.

The 1950s

May 14, 1950: The second election of a multi-party government was made.  Democratic Party won the elections.  Celal Bayar was chosen as the third President of Turkey.

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February 18, 1952: Turkey joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The 1960s

May 27, 1960: A military coup was led by the General Cemal Gürsel.  Turkish Military Forces took the lead of the country and the Prime Minister Adnan Menderes was executed.

July 9, 1961: A new constitution was accepted.


Photo: answer5/

The 1970s

March 12, 1971: Another military coup took place.

The 1980s

September 12, 1980: The General Kenan Evren led another military coup.  All political parties were disbanded.  The General became the new President.

September 18, 1982: The coup’s constitution was accepted.

November 6, 1983: The first after-coup election was made, and the Motherland Party won the election.

November 9, 1987: Turgut Özal from the Motherland Party was elected as the new President.

The 1990s:

These years were full of political and economic instability in Turkey.  In 1997, military forces sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan claiming the disturbance of the government’s religious actions and Necmettin Erbakan had consequently resigned.  This event is known as the ‘post-modern coup’ in Turkey.  A new coalition party was then formed.  After this period, Turkey underwent another serious economic crisis.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey's President

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the first democratically-elected President of Turkey. Photo: cemT/

The 2000s

November 3, 2002: After a long coalition period, the Justice and Development Party won the elections, gaining the right to form the government alone.  To this date, the same party had won all the elections and has been the ruling party in Turkey.

August 10, 2014: Turkish people were finally given the right to choose their own president.  Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became the first President who was elected by the people.

July 15, 2016: A Group in Turkish Armed Forces who were supporters of Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Muslim cleric, attempted a military coup.  However, Turkish people were successful at defeating the coup in one night.

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