LOCAL-POLITICS AND DEMOCRACY IN TURKEY - AN APPRAISAL


KOKER L.

ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF POLITICAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE, vol.540, pp.51-62, 1995 (SSCI) identifier identifier

Abstract

Local government and politics in Turkey have been under the tutelary control of the central state. Contrary to the Western republican tradition of autonomous local self-government, local politics in Turkey were created by and for the central state. More recently, however, a municipal movement with a social democratic coloring emerged to put an end to central governmental tutelage. This movement was followed by the rise of a new conservative perspective in the 1980s. A peculiar synthesis of technical reason and traditional nationalism was the main characteristic of Turkish new conservatism, which identified local political problems with technical problems of urban management. This approach has been adopted by the party of political Islam, now controlling major metropolitan areas and most smaller towns in central and eastern Turkey; this party tries to resynthesize technical reason and Islamic traditions. Whether Turkey will walk on the path toward more decentralized and participatory political organization or jump into a new and stronger authoritarianism depends on the respective political capabilities of these three trends.