Bookmark and Share

Open the online Arabic language course

Open map of TurkeyFlag of TurkeyTurkey / Politics /
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: World Economic Forum.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Greek Prime Minister Georgios A. Papandreou. Photo: Greek Prime Ministry

(1954-) Turkish politician, leader of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, in short AKP).
Erdogan has in recent years changed from being an outspoken Islamist into becoming a moderate conservative politician. Earlier, he worked closely with Necmettin Erbakan, whose Islamist party was outlawed in the late 1990's. Today, he claims to be both in favour of continued Turkish membership in NATO, and also in favour of entering the European Union. Many looked upon Erdogan's political transition with suspicion, and awaited a possible change in emphasis following the 2002 elections. One Islamist issue, however, central to his campaign: To allow women to wear the head scarf (hijab) in public buildings, which was then prohibited.
Erdogan has further expressed that he would like to introduce changes to the laws governing political parties, as well as to the election laws, in order to make Turkey more democratic and pluralist. He has also expressed the need for Turkey actively to seek foreign investment actively, an issue — if involving non-Muslim investments — frowned upon by many Islamists.
Erdogan showed his political abilities through the years as mayor of Istanbul. Unlike the majority of other Turkish politicians, Erdogan proved not to be corrupt. His achievements included making this crowded city greener and cleaner.
Erdogan is generally considered to be among Turkey's most charismatic politicians, proven by the landslide victory of AK in the general elections of late 2002. Following his sentence of 1998, Erdogan was barred from entering parliament or serving any position in a government.
Erdogan has a degree in management from Marmara University in Istanbul. Despite his education, Erdogan has been accused of showing little sophistication, speaking only his native language and knowing little about the rudiments of economics.


1954: Born in Rize, in northern Turkey, into a lower middle class family.
1967: Erdogan and his family move to Istanbul.
1994: Erdogan becomes mayor of Istanbul.
1998: Convicted by a court for inciting religious hatred, is sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, but serves only 4.
2002: Erdogan's AK wins a majority representation in the Turkish parliament, even if it only gains 36% of the votes. This is the result of a 10% threshold for being represented in the Turkish parliament, hindering many small parties their representation.
2003 March 14: Becomes prime minister.

By Tore Kjeilen