With family origins from Turkey’s Rize, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was born on 26 February 1954 in Istanbul. In 1965 he graduated from Kasımpaşa Piyale Primary School and completed Istanbul Religious Vocational High School (İmam Hatip Lisesi) in 1973. Erdoğan received a second graduation certificate from Eyüp High School by completing his high school credits. In 1981 Erdoğan graduated from the Faculty of Economics and Commercial Sciences in Marmara University.
Preferring to blend his social life with politics from his early days, Erdoğan embraced disciplined teamwork and team spirit from football in between the years 1969-1982 when he played as an amateur sportsman .It was also in those years that as a young idealist, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began to feel concerned for national issues and the problems of society. This is when he took the first step in participating in active politics.
An active member of various branches of the Turkish National Students’ Union in his high school and university years, in 1976, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected Chairman of the Beyoğlu Youth Branch of the National Salvation Party, MSP, followed by being elected as Chairman of the Istanbul Youth Branches of the party in the same year. Erdoğan continued to fulfill his duties in these posts until 1980. Following the September 12 military intervention, which closed down all political parties, Erdoğan worked in the private sector as a consultant and a senior executive.
When the Welfare Party (Refah Parti) was established in 1983, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan returned to politics and in 1984 he became Beyoğlu District Chairman of this party. In 1985, he was appointed the party’s Provincial Chairman for Istanbul as well as a member of its Central Decision-making and Executive Board. While acting as Provincial Chairman for Istanbul, Erdoğan initiated a reorganization, which served as a model for other political parties. In this period, Erdoğan worked to increase the participation of women and young people in politics and took important steps in creating a grassroots movement by encouraging larger sections of the society to take interest in politics. This reorganization earned the Welfare Party huge success in the Beyoğlu district in the local elections of 1989, and became a model for political efforts all around the country.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected Istanbul Mayor in the local elections of March 27, 1994. With his political skills, the importance he placed on teamwork, his successful management of human resources and financial matters, Erdoğan was able to make correct diagnoses and create solutions for the many chronic problems of Istanbul, one of the most important metropolitan cıtıes of the world. The water shortage problem was solved by laying of hundreds of kilometers of new pipelines. The garbage problem was solved with the establishing of state-of-the-art recycling facilities. Air pollution was eliminated while Erdoğan was in office with a plan that was developed to switch to natural gas. The city’s traffic and transportation jams were tackled with more than 50 bridges, viaducts and highways. Many projects that would shed light on the problems of later years were developed. Erdoğan further took measures to ensure that municipal funds were used prudently, at the same time taking severe precautions to prevent corruption. Erdoğan paid back a major portion of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s debt, which was two billion dollars when he took office, and meanwhile invested four billion dollars in the city. Opening an entirely new era in municipality affairs in Turkey, Erdoğan became a model for other municipalities, while also earning a high level of public trust.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was sentenced to a prison term because of a poem he recited on December 12, 1997 in a public address in the province of Siirt. The poem was quoted from a book published by the Ministry of Education and had been recommended to teachers by them. As a result, he was dismissed from his role as Mayor of Istanbul.
After four months of imprisonment, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded to the insistent demands of the public in an environment of improved democratic conditions, and established the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) with a group of friends on August 14, 2001. The Founding Board subsequently elected him Founding Chairman of AK Party. From its first year, the confidence and trust of the people in AK Party resulted in it becoming the largest publicly supported political movement in Turkey. In 2002, the general elections resulted with AK Party winning two-thirds of the seats in parliament, forming a single-party government.
Not permitted to become a candidate deputy in the elections of November 3, 2002 because of the court order against him, Erdoğan participated in the renewal elections for the province of Siirt on March 9, 2003 upon the lifting of the legal obstacles to his candidacy for parliamentary membership. Receiving 85 percent of the votes in this election, Erdoğan became a deputy for the province of Siirt for the 22nd Term of Parliament.
Appointed Prime Minister on March 15, 2003, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continued to harbor his ideal of a bright and rapidly developing Turkey, implementing numerous reforms of vital importance within a short period of time. A great deal was achieved in democratization, attaining transparency and preventing corruption. Parallel to this, inflation, which had adversely affected the country’s economy and the people’s psychological state of mind for decades, was finally taken under control and the Turkish Lira retrieved its former prestige through the elimination of six zeros. Interest rates for public borrowings were pulled down and per capita income grew significantly. Many new dams, housing projects, schools, hospitals and power plants were inaugurated at a pace never before witnessed in the history of the country. All of these positive developments were named “the Silent Revolution” by some foreign observers and Western leaders.
In addition to the major initiatives that have been characterized as turning points in the country’s journey toward becoming a member of the European Union, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s sensible foreign policy and intensive diplomatic visits have paved the path for a lasting solution in the Cyprus issue and the development of productive relations with several countries around the world. With the stability that has been achieved, Turkey’s internal dynamics have been revived, causing it to be a central point of interest. Turkey’s foreign trade volume and political power have increased not only in its own geographical region, but on an international scale as well.
Receiving 46.6% of the votes casted in the general elections, AK Party gained a great victory and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan formed the 60th government of the Turkish Republic receiving the vote of confidence once again.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arose from the June 12, 2011 general elections with triumph receiving 49.8 % of the votes casted and formed the 61st government for the Turkish Republic.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is married and father of four.