Policy Performance


Economic Policies

With uncertainty heightened by regional and internal events, Turkey falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 27) with regard to economic policies. Its score on this measure is unchanged relative to its 2014 level.

GDP growth has been moderate to strong, but currency depreciation has undermined buying power. Inflation rates are above targets. Slowdowns since the early part of the decade have been partially intentional, but also driven by political instability in regional export markets. The attempted coup and state of emergency have dampened confidence and weakened private demand.

The labor-force participation rate is low, particularly for women, but is rising consistently. Unemployment rates are relatively high and rising, and the informal economy accounts for nearly one-third of employment. The youth unemployment rate is high, with nearly half of employed youth working in the informal sector. The minimum wage has been increased by 30%.

The direct tax burden is low by OECD standards. Indirect taxes contribute the bulk of government revenue. Gross public debt is moderate by international standards, indicating a sustainable fiscal policy.

Social Policies

With the pressure of refugee care stressing social budgets, Turkey scores relatively poorly (rank 34) with regard to social policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.5 points relative to 2014.

Near-universal primary enrollment was achieved in 2013 – 2014, but gender gaps increase strongly at higher educational levels. The post-coup dismissal of thousands of academics has strongly undermined academic freedoms. Income inequality is substantial. Poverty rates are falling rapidly, but remain high. Social-assistance spending is growing rapidly from a low level.

Health care quality is steadily improving, with near-universal health-insurance coverage achieved by 2014, but cost pressures are growing. The employment rate for women is very low. The government’s conservative family-affairs stance has hampered progress in this area.

Recent reforms have modernized the pension system, but fiscal sustainability is a problem. The Syrian civil war has produced around 3.1 million refugees in Turkey, along with massive financial burdens. Reluctant to accept refugees’ long-term presence, the government has not actively developed integration policies. The migrant-resettlement deal with the EU has not been fully implemented.

Environmental Policies

With relatively underdeveloped conservation regimes, Turkey receives the SGI 2017’s lowest overall score (rank 41) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

While improvements have been made in emissions controls, the use of renewable energy, and energy efficiency, the country is still rated poorly in terms of climate performance. Emissions growth has slowed, though the causes are unclear. The country has signed the UN climate change agreement, and is developing an emissions-monitoring mechanism.

Progress has also been made on regulating air quality and industrial pollution. Conservation-focused regulation for wetlands, forests and natural sites suffers from legal shortcomings. Regulations on industrial pollution and chemicals do not meet international standards.

The country’s reservations on the Paris climate agreement complicated negotiations, but Turkey eventually signed and ratified the accord. Cooperation on marine-conservation issues has been fruitful.



Quality of Democracy

With concerns rising sharply following the attempted coup, Turkey takes the SGI 2017’s bottom spot (rank 41) with regard to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 1.2 points since 2014.

Following the July 15 coup attempt, a state of emergency was declared that featured mass arrests, property confiscation, restrictions of political rights, violence in the southeast, and decrees issued without possibility of judicial review. Media outlets have been closed or put under trusteeship, and journalists attacked, fired and imprisoned.

Parliamentary immunity was lifted, leading to arrests of several parliamentarians. Gender-related violence, hate speech, and discrimination against LGBT communities are serious problems. After mass dismissals of judges, courts are struggling to handle the influx of cases, and judicial independence has been weakened.

A 10% vote threshold for parliamentary eligibility is a high hurdle for small parties. Party and candidate financing is non-transparent, and critics charge that government funds are used for the incumbent party’s campaigns.



Executive Capacity

Despite a strong core government, Turkey falls into the lower-middle ranks internationally (rank 29) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.4 points since 2014.

President Erdogan has exerted a tight grip on the government, pushing the system toward a centralized presidential model with power monopolized by the ruling party. During the review period, the resource-rich Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Development were involved in policy development from an early stage.

Strategic planning is common but often uncoordinated. RIAs are theoretically required, but often omitted. The incidence of societal consultation, particularly with groups not already allied with the government, has declined. Following the attempted coup, numerous municipal mayors and staff members were detained and replaced by trustees.

The government’s formerly unilateral approach to Syria and the Islamic State has given way to greater international cooperation. The country has played a key role in responding to the Syrian refugee crisis, with its main institutional actors effectively implementing the government’s “humanitarian diplomacy.”

Executive Accountability

With underdeveloped oversight mechanisms, Turkey takes a SGI 2017’s bottom spot (rank 40) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

Citizens’ policy knowledge is often weak, due partially to a lack of transparency regarding government policymaking. Media independence has been severely compromised since the attempted coup, complicating acquisition of reliable information. Social media is frequently restricted by the government.

Parliamentarians have moderate resources, with capacity development a persistent problem. The ruling party’s parliamentary majority silences criticism, and opposition oversight attempts have been ignored. The audit court’s powers have been repeatedly modified in recent years. A recently created Ombudsman office has seen a low level of compliance with its decisions.

Parties are centralized. Economic-interest organizations develop proposals that the government claims to take under consideration. Following the attempted coup, hundreds of foundations and civil-society organizations were shut down, and civil society’s influence more generally has been strongly diminished.
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