Turkish Court of Accounts warns of widespread nepotism in AKP-led government

While millions in Turkey struggle with unemployment, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) continues to appoint its supporters to public sector positions without merit. Now, the Turkish Court of Accounts has warned that this nepotism could lead to a breakdown in the functioning of the government.

This file photo shows AKP supporters holding a picture of Erdoğan.

Duvar English 

Turkey’s Court of Accounts ("Sayıştay") has warned that the continued appointment of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters to positions they are not qualified for could lead to a breakdown in the functioning of an “efficient and impartial public administration,” daily Birgün reported on Nov. 2. 

As millions in Turkey struggle with unemployment - the current official unemployment rate is 13.2%, though it is likely much higher - the ruling coalition supporters are appointed to powerful government and public sector positions daily. These political appointments are made without the appointees meeting any requirements for the positions, and they rise rapidly through the ranks of ministries and administrations. Those chosen for these posts are often relatives of politicians in the AKP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), members of their political cadre, managers of non-governmental organizations close to the government, and allies of the ruling alliance. 

Now, the Turkish Court of Accounts, responsible for overseeing government administration, has prepared a report on this widespread practice of nepotism. In addition to its ruling that these unqualified, political appointments could lead to a breakdown in the effective functioning of Turkey’s governmental administration, it also noted that many of these individuals had been appointed “by proxy” so as to avoid administrative hurdles. 

The report, in particular, focused on the issue of the civil service exam. Normally, it is required that Turkish civil servants pass the notoriously difficult “Civil Service Exam” ("KPSS") before taking a job in public administration. This is necessary, according to Civil Servants Law 657, “to establish an impartial and efficient administration.” The practice of the AKP-MHP coalition to appoint unqualified allies has critically undermined the civil service’s merit system, the report found. 

Career advancement and “merit” are both presented as the basis of the civil service system, and the report found that ruling coalition practice undermined both of those principles in three critical ways.

First, appointments were made by the ruling coalition without completion of the civil service examination. This meant that dozens of high-ranking civil servants were fundamentally unqualified for their positions. 

Second, these party allies were appointed without requisite diplomas, work experience, or skills, such as foreign language proficiency. Again, this led to public administrators being unqualified to carry out the duties of the positions to which they were assigned. 

Finally, the court determined that the government circumvented requirements for its cadre by appointing these individuals as “temporary assignments.” Unqualified government allies were placed in vacant posts, then the length of those temporary assignments was extended ad infinitum. 

Taken together, the court found, these practices have created a deeply entrenched system of nepotism in the current government that has completely undermined its efficient functioning.