Turkey's presidential decrees surpass parliamentary bills sixfold in 2023

The decrees issued by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2023 were six times more than the number of bills passed through Parliamentary motions, according to a study by the main opposition CHP’s Istanbul deputy Turan Taşkın Özer.

Ceren Bayar / Gazete Duvar

Turkey’s main legislation method was presidential decrees in 2023, revealed a study by the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul deputy Turan Taşkın Özer. The number of bills issued with presidential decrees was about six times more than those passed through parliamentary motions.

Özer’s report stated that the Turkish Parliament legislated 37 proposals with 295 articles in 2023. Meanwhile, 41 Presidential decrees with 227 articles and 577 Presidential by-laws with 1,499 articles came into force within the year. 

In total, Turkish President singlehandedly issued 1,726 legislative articles in 2023, which was around six times the 295 articles passed by the Parliament with 600 members. 

Turkey’s Constitution limits the power of the president to issue decrees on “matters regarding executive power,” and by-laws “to ensure the implementation of laws.” 

Presidential decrees are not sub-legal regulations in terms of the "hierarchy of norms" in Turkish positive law, but are regulations that have the same effect and value as laws in terms of implementation, according to the Constitutional Court.

The report also presented that only one of the 826 motions submitted to the parliament to establish various research commissions was accepted. 

According to the report, 3,377 of the 7,706 parliamentary questions submitted were left unanswered, and of the answered questions, most were answered later than the allotted time. 

Özer stated that the legislative powers of the Turkish Parliament were being increasingly violated since the transition to the presidential system in 2017. “The ruling People’s Alliance has eliminated the deliberative quality of the Parliament and turned it into an approval center for all their impositions owing to their quantitative majority,” said Özer.  

During 2023, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) held the majority in the Parliament.

In April 2017, today’s hyper-presidential system was voted in a referendum in Turkey under state of emergency (OHAL) conditions. The system was approved by 51.41% of the votes, abolishing the Prime Minister post for the first time in the history of the Republic of Turkey.

A 2023 report by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) and the Human Rights Association (İHD) stated that the OHAL regime persisted, although the decree was officially lifted on July 19, 2018.

The report suggested that the increased powers of the President evident from the number of decrees passed in 2023 has lifted fundamental constraints on governmental power, constitutionalism, and the rule of law.

(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)