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Turkey: Civil Service
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Government > Civil Service


Since the early years of the Turkish republic, the civil bureaucracy has played an important role in politics. It became one of the bases of Atatürk's power and was a key instrument of his reform policy, which emphasized adherence to the "Six Arrows" of secularism, republicanism, populism, nationalism, etatism successors did not appreciate these attitudes, and consequently bureaucrats lost credibility and influence among these politicians, who tried, generally with little success, to restrict the autonomy of the civil service.

The military regime that seized power in 1980 was less tolerant of an independent bureaucracy than its predecessor had been in 1960. Accordingly, it took measures designed to reduce the bureaucracy's autonomy and involvement in partisan politics. For example, civil servants lost the right to challenge or appeal decisions made by members of the Council of Ministers or the Council of State. Martial law commanders were empowered to remove or reassign civil servants under their jurisdiction at their own discretion. In April 1981, a Supreme Board of Supervision was established to oversee the bureaucracy. Its investigations resulted in a large number of officials receiving administrative or penal punishments and prompted many senior bureaucrats to leave government service. The tension between the military government and the civil service did not cease with the end of military rule. When Turgut Özal became prime minister at the end of 1983, he proclaimed that streamlining the bureaucracy was part of the fundamental administrative reform he intended to implement. Gradually, however, cooperation between bureaucrats and political leaders was restored; by the early 1990s, it was no longer fashionable to blame civil servants for the country's problems.

In early 1995, the civil service operated in accordance with provisions stipulated in the 1982 constitution and subsequent regulations. For example, civil servants are appointed for life on the basis of competitive examinations and can be removed from their posts only in exceptional cases. They must remain loyal to the constitution and may not join political parties. If a public employee wishes to compete in National Assembly elections, that individual first must resign from government service. All disciplinary decisions pertaining to civil servants are subject to judicial review.

Last Updated: January 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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