Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, born 26 February 1954 is the 25th and current Prime Minister of Turkey, in office since 2003. He is also the chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which holds a majority of the seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Erdoğan served as Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998. He graduated from an Imam Hatip school, an Islamic high school, before studying in Marmara University's Faculty of Economics and Commercial Sciences, where he graduated in 1981. Erdoğan was also a semi-professional footballer from 1969 to 1982. Erdoğan was elected Mayor of Istanbul in the local elections of 27 March 1994. He was banned from office and sentenced to a ten-month prison term for reciting a poem during a public address in the province of Siirt in 1997. After less than four months in prison, Erdoğan established the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2001. From its first year, the AKP became the largest publicly supported political movement in Turkey. In the general election of 2002 the AKP won 34% of the vote and nearly two-thirds of the seats in parliament, forming the first single-party government.
45 years after Turkey signed an Association Agreement with the EU, the negotiations for Turkey's accession to the EU started during Erdoğan's tenure. Parallel to this, inflation, which had for decades adversely affected the country's economy, was brought under control and the Turkish Lira was re-valued. Interest rates were reduced and per capita income grew significantly.
His foreign policy vision is claimed to rest on Neo-Ottomanism, the policy according to which Turkey should maintain and increase its presence in the lands formerly ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Under his premiership, the country has consolidated its position as a regional power with global ambitions.
The AKP won the elections of 2007 making it the first time in 52 years that a party in power had increased its votes for a second term. In the 2011 general election, the AKP was re-elected for a third term and Erdoğan remained Prime Minister.
May and June 2013 saw protests against what large sections of the Turkish public perceive as a growing authoritarianism of Erdogan and his government and his policies, starting from a small sit-in in Istanbul in defense of a city park. After the police's intense reaction with burning down the tents of the demonstrators, the protests spread all over Turkey. After the demonstrations began, the police continued with immense amounts of tear gas and water cannons to control and clear the demonstrations.