Turkey’s Constitutional Court has restricted President Erdoğan’s powers to appoint university rectors and central bank governors, insisting that these actions require legislative approval. This decision, following an appeal by the main opposition Republican People’s Party, highlights serious procedural problems with the current use of appointments by decree. However, government statements have raised concerns about possible non-compliance.


On 4 June, Turkey’s Constitutional Court issued a significant ruling limiting the president’s powers to appoint university rectors and replace central bank governors, stating that such powers require specific legislation.

The court’s ruling came in response to a 2018 challenge by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which contested a government decree issued during the state of emergency following the failed 2016 coup attempt.

The court ruled that the president’s power to dismiss the governor of the Central Bank before the end of their term was unconstitutional. The court also ruled that the president does not have the power to appoint university rectors. The Constitutional Court’s decision states that such powers derived from decrees are procedurally unconstitutional and should be properly legislated.

The court has set a one-year deadline for the necessary legislative adjustments.

The court annulled provisions of the decree issued during the post-coup state of emergency that had granted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan these appointment powers. Since these powers came into effect in October 2016, Erdoğan has appointed numerous university rectors, leading to widespread protests, most notably at Boğaziçi University in 2021.

Erdoğan’s use of the decree to replace central bank governors five times since 2016 has been a key mechanism for his influence over the economy.

The court’s ruling is expected to have a significant impact on both the political and economic spheres in Turkey.

Özgür Özel, leader of the main opposition CHP, said that the Constitutional Court’s decision invalidates many of the steps taken by Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government on the basis of these decrees. “It has shown how unlawfully the country has been governed,” he said.

Statements from the government side have raised concerns about possible non-compliance with the Constitutional Court’s rulings.

On 4 June, in response to the remarks from Özel and others, the Anti-Disinformation Centre within the Presidential Communications Directorate issued a statement denying that the court had revoked Erdoğan’s powers to appoint the Central Bank governor and university rectors. The statement claimed that the ruling was based on the need for legal regulation rather than the annulment of the powers themselves.

The following day, presidential advisor Mehmet Uçum commented on the Constitutional Court’s ruling, emphasising that the president’s appointment powers had not been annulled, but that a legal regulation was needed instead of decrees. Uçum, who has previously made statements urging the judiciary to rule in favour of the closure of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), is known for his controversial interventions in judicial matters.

The decisions of the Constitutional Court mark a significant moment in Turkey’s political landscape, highlighting ongoing tensions about the future enforcement of legal decisions in the country.