Crown Center for Middle East Studies

Local Politics in an Authoritarian State: The Significance of Municipalities in Turkey

A Crown Seminar with Zeynep Kadirbeyoğlu

Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Watch the recording of the event on our YouTube channel.

Why do local politics matter in highly centralized states? Most commentary on Turkish politics has focused on the government’s increasing authoritarian nature at the national level. Despite their limited authority, however, local governments are important sites for understanding the limits of state power and mobilizing new political alliances, as seen in the unexpected victory of opposition candidates in the 2019 municipal elections and the prominent roles of the mayors of Ankara and Istanbul in the recent general elections. In this Crown Seminar, Zeynep Kadirbeyoğlu, in conversation with Muna Güvenç Ospina Leon, will discuss the historical role of municipalities and local governance in Turkey. Their conversation will examine the significance of local politics as spaces for contesting democratic backsliding not only in Turkey but also across the Middle East.

Zeynep Kadirbeyoğlu is a faculty leave fellow at the Crown Center and an associate professor of political science at Boğaziçi University (Istanbul).
Muna Güvenç Ospina Leon, discussant, is a faculty affiliate at the Crown Center and an assistant professor of fine arts at Brandeis.