Erdoğan, Recep Tayyip

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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (rĕjĕp´ tīyĬp´ ûr´dōän), 1954–, Turkish politician. He was educated at Marmara Univ., where he met Necmettin Erbakan, who went on to head the Islamist Welfare party and serve (1996–7) as prime minister. Active in the Welfare party by the mid-1980s, Erdoğan was elected mayor of İstanbul in 1994. In 1998 he was convicted of inciting religious hatred for reading a poem with martial Islamic images; he served four months in prison. In 2001, Erdoğan and others founded the Justice and Development party (AKP) as the successor to the banned (1998) Welfare party. In the 2002 elections the new party won an overwhelming majority in parliament, but Erdoğan was banned from running because of his 1998 conviction. After the constitution was amended, Erdoğan was elected (2003) and became prime minister. In 2007 and 2011 the AKP again won control of parliament. Erdoğan has moved from the strongly Islamist positions he once espoused to more mainstream conservative positions, and his government has pursued some reforms required for Turkey to enter the European Union. In 2010 his government won approval of constitutional amendments that reduced the autocratic aspects of the military-drafted constitution that was adopted in 1982. He was also criticized, however, for attempting to use the justice system to stifle critics in the press, academia, and politics. In 2014 he became Turkey's first directly elected president; because of the AKP's self-imposed limit of three terms for its parliamentary deputies, he could not serve as prime minister after the next election.