Municipal politics in Turkey (2018)

local government and party organisation

in: Routledge studies in Middle Eastern politics, Volume 86

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There is a large and growing literature on Turkish politics in general, and the AKP in particular. However, local government and party organization, although very important topics, are strikingly understudied. The book compares local politics in two Central Anatolian cities, Konya and Eskiðsehir, ruled by different governmental parties, the AKP in Konya and the CHP in Eskiðsehir. The research analyzes how national political parties adapt to local contexts ('culture of everyday politics') and how they seek to influence local culture ('politics of everyday culture'). By examining how municipal politics is practiced on a daily basis, it illuminates more fundamental aspects of Turkish politics such as political mobilization, establishing links between voters and politicians, various practices of decision-making and the role of civil society. All of these have been critical for the AKP's continuous electoral success since 2002. The findings are based on over 1.5 years of fieldwork in the two cities, as well as over 50 interviews with national and local political actors. The main fields of research are mayoral biographies, municipal practices, particularly with regard to welfare and service provision, the cooperation with other municipal actors as political parties or civil society organizations; urban planning activities and cultural policy. The study helps to comprehend more fundamental aspects of Turkish politics such as political mobilization, the establishing of links between voters, municipalities and parties as well as decision-making processes.