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Introducing the Report on Turkish Presidential Decrees

This is a guest post by Kayahan Cantekin, a foreign law specialist in the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.

Our new report, Turkey: Presidential Decrees is now available on law.gov. The report provides an overview of the president’s power to issue presidential decrees under the Turkish Constitution. The presidential decree is a rulemaking instrument that the president of Turkey can issue without prior authorization or delegation from the legislature. This rulemaking power was introduced to the Turkish constitutional system with the amendments adopted in 2017.

Title page of the Law Library’s report “Turkey: Presidential Decrees”

The introduction of the presidential decree is a novel and unprecedented development in the Turkish constitutional law tradition. With it, the executive is given the authority to issue rules directly without a delegation from the legislature or without being limited to issuing rules implementing statutory law. Consequently, the question of the limits of the president’s power to regulate via presidential decrees has become a focal point in legal scholarship in the last few years, with authors attempting to establish the theoretical foundations of the power and pointing out its potential risks.

Since 2020, the Constitutional Court’s jurisprudence, created in the context of constitutional challenges brought against presidential decrees, started to shape the limits to the president’s power to issue decrees on a case-by-case basis. This jurisprudence has generated many responses in legal scholarship. Since its introduction, 89 presidential decrees have been issued, mostly regulating the organization of the central administration, but also touching on other subject matter.

The Law Library’s report surveys the recent scholarship and the foundational Constitutional Court decisions on presidential decrees, emphasizing what we know and do not know regarding the scope and limits of this novel presidential power. The report also examines a controversy that arose from President Erdogan’s use of a presidential act to withdraw Turkey from the Istanbul Convention without the consent of the legislature, based on an authority granted by a presidential decree, a development that might have implications for Turkish foreign relations law.

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