Turkmenistan Government and Politics

State and politics

Turkmenistan Country Flag

Reference: Turkmenistan Flag Meaning

According to AllCityCodes.com, Turkmenistan has since independence in 1991 served as a one-party state with a prominent personal cult around Presidents Saparmurat Nijazov and Gurbanguli Berdimuchammedov (born 1957).


The Constitution of 1992 was revised in 2008 so that the People’s Assembly (e-mail) could become an efficient working parliament with 125 deputies. Formally, the Constitution allows several parties, but in practice only the former Communist Party, which was transformed into the Turkmenistan Democratic Party, was able to work. Parliament is elected for a term of five years.

The president is the head of state and government as well as commander-in-chief. In 2016, the term of office was extended from five to seven years. The previous rule that banned the president from sitting for more than two terms was put off play in 1999 and since 2016 there is no longer an age limit for how old a presidential candidate may be; previously the limit was 70 years.


When Turkmenistan became independent in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union, Saparmurat Nijazov became the country’s first president. In 1999, Nijazov was elected president for life. In early 2007, Gurbanguli Berdimuchammedov was elected in a well-directed election to new president after Nijazov’s unexpected death in late 2006. Berdimuchammedov should have been appointed as a compromise between various influential groups. Customer affiliation is an important element of political life. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of TM and its meanings of Turkmenistan.

However, Berdimuchammedov’s power was significantly strengthened in May 2007 when the former commander of Nijazov’s life guard, Lieutenant General Serdar Rejepov, was deposed and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Berdimuchammedov’s first five years as president were marked by some renewal, but hardly any democratization. Turkmenistan has instead consolidated its position as one of the world’s most authoritarian and repressive states. In 2012, a new regime-controlled presidential election was held in which Berdimuchammedov was re-elected with 97 percent of the vote and in the 2017 elections, the president received 98 percent of the vote, according to official data.

In the parliamentary elections held in 2013, for the first time, a party in addition to the ruling Turkmenistan Democratic Party was allowed to stand. The party for industrialists and entrepreneurs was supplemented in the 2018 election with the Turkmenistan farmer’s party, but no real opposition. After the 2018 election, 31 MPs (25 percent) were women.

The cult of personality around Nijazov has gradually been replaced by a cult around Berdimuchammedov and since 2013, Nijazov’s “Ruhnama” (“Soul Book”), which includes myths about Turkmenistan’s early history, is no longer a compulsory element of teaching. Hopes that Nijazov’s demise would be followed by an upgrading of the school system, freer media and a generally raised standard of living have been met to a very small extent.

The Russians share of the population has fallen to a few percent due to emigration. Since the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan agreed in 2003 not to grant dual citizenship in the future, Turkmenistan unilaterally rejected the dual citizenship that many Russians in the country had already acquired. Holders of Russian passports have been largely dismissed from their jobs.


The justice system in Turkmenistan is highly politicized. For example, on December 30, 2002, Parliament sharpened the verdict of a group of opposition to life imprisonment despite the most severe sentence under the law being 25 years in prison. The legislation is drafted so that it gives the state great influence over all sectors of society. However, limited parts of economic legislation have been modernized. The death penalty was abolished in 1999. By tradition, the president has pardoned prisoners for major celebrations like Ramadan.

Human Rights

At the 2012 presidential election, President Gurbanguli Berdimuchammedov retained his position in power, and despite implementing some reforms in a democratic direction, the country is still ranked as one of the world’s ten most authoritarian countries. Turkmenistan is a one-party state and political opposition is lacking. Real power is concentrated on the president and respect for laws and conventions is low. Furthermore, Turkmenistan’s access to a particular convention is one thing and the application of the same convention is something quite different, and no real civil society exists in practice. The approaches available to create one are carefully controlled by the security service.

Freedom of speech and freedom of expression is provided for in the Constitution, but in practice it is severely limited and all media are controlled by the state. In the ranking of freedom of the press that the Reporters Without Borders organization made in 2015, Turkmenistan is ranked 178 out of 180 countries, closest to North Korea and Eritrea.

According to reports from international organizations such as Human Rights Watch, torture in prisons and prisons occurs, often as a way to force confessions. The prisons are overcrowded and the sanitary conditions substandard. In order to survive, many interns have to rely on relatives and friends delivering food, but those prisoners sentenced by the “Homeland Traitors” Act are not allowed to receive food packages from outside. Deaths within the prison environment are common.

The State’s own security service monitors citizens through personal surveillance, telephone interception and e-mail control. Foreign visitors and diplomats are also monitored and there are no legal restrictions in the area of ‚Äč‚Äčsurveillance. Arbitrary detention occurs to a large extent and people who are particularly vulnerable are criticized as being critical of the government. Exercise of authority by the police and the security agencies is often characterized by arbitrary and widespread corruption, which means that legal security is lost.

The Constitution prohibits religious freedom but it is limited. All religious communities must be registered and to do so, at least 500 members are required at each place where registration is desired which often makes registration impossible.

The law prohibits discrimination on grounds of gender, but women are underrepresented in government, business and politics. Violence against women in the home is widespread and many crimes of this kind are never reported. Trafficking in women for prostitution exists and there is no legislation against human trafficking.

Many minority groups, of which Russians and the Uzbek are the largest groups, state that they are being discriminated against as a result of the previous president’s program to promote Turkmen nation-building.

Heads of State


1990-2006 Saparmurat Nijazov
2006- Gurbanguli Berdimuchammedov

Turkmenistan Head of Government

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