One of the consequences of the Dec. 17 period is that local elections have turned into general elections. In a way, the elections are now seen as a vote of confidence regarding the government.
While the government wing sees the movements against them with obviously multiple components as an ontological problem, the alliances that have been formed against the government in the last two years see the local elections as a good start to their success, and in order to achieve success they fight as hard as the period prior to the May 27, 1960 coup d'etat.
Even though the local elections seem to be elections where local dynamics are determinative, in general, they do not carry significant political meanings in terms of struggle.
The candidates do not create big changes in terms of the mayoralties they have been chosen for. And the reason for that lies in the local government system.
Turkey has a harsh centralist system with the exception of the 1921 Constitution.
The government is ruled by the rural representatives of the center, and subjects such as fundamental political decisions, public order, economics, education, agriculture and public staff regime are considered to be in the control of and under the initiative of the center constitution-wise.
Local governments are founded for and work "in order to meet common local needs." In other words, they collect trash, order that streets and roads are fixed and kept in good condition, et cetera. The problems in local governments regarding reconstruction caused the power of the central government to be expanded by law.
The weaknesses of in-party democracy in Turkey have obliged local actors to follow a policy not according to the local but to the center.
That is why considering local governments as a part of deliberative democracy is a bit hard.
This fact causes local elections to be seen as general elections, and the insignificance of it makes it redundant to try hard at the local elections and care about the results in terms of general politics.
However, after 2010, this tendency has changed.
2010 was the year that Turkey's map of power changed. In other words, the representative organs found the opportunity to rule the center and the fate of the country for the first time after 2010.
The gravity of the center, their control over the economy and the power they possess, surely make local governments even more meaningless and turn the elections into a vote of confidence for the government.
This situation, without a doubt, affects the language and the severity of the political struggle to have this power and seize it.
If the existent constitutional system remains the same, there will be a similar atmosphere in all elections.
About the author
Osman Can is a Law Professor and Reporting Judge at the Turkish Constitutional Court. He holds a PhD from the University of Cologne, Germany.