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Politics, Democracy and Civil Society: Local Governance in Mugla, Turkey

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Ramazan Gunlu


5th ECPR General Conference, Potsdam, Germany (2009)


Civil Society, Democracy, Local Governance, Turkey


Democracy and civil society relations in local politics may display significant differences when metropolis, big cities and small or-medium size cities are considered. In Turkey, through the years of 2003-2004, several changes have been made in the legislation related to local governance within the framework of the reconstruction of administration. The local elections which were last held in 29 March 2004 in Turkey are to be renewed in 29 March 2009. The implementation process of the new arrangements has created changes in the dynamics of local politics and democracy in Turkey, and has obligatorily empowered and activated civil society organizations under the new legislative measures.
In this paper the interaction between local political social actors is discussed within the context of changing state-society relations in Turkey from the 1990s on. In this paper, Within the framework of a study carried out in the regional city of Mugla, civil society structure and its transformation is investigated and its effect on local politics is evaluated. Mugla is a centre which shares many of the issues also experienced at state level when managing regional governance where local politics has a strong and powerful dynamics.
This paper aims to highlight such issues by placing emphasis on the local political relationships with civil society and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) during the local election process. In order to analyze the situation of the actors created by the new legislation, a data set is defined and coded and interviews carried out with the heads of organizations in their relations with the local political sphere, while local political actors are analyzed comparatively.
In this analysis, the effect of local social problems on the political actors are identified by comparing the characteristics of governance politics within the local political sphere to its institutional results, and characteristics of the legislative measures arranging the political sphere in Turkey are analyzed and evaluated within a national and global context.

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