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  • Author: Ulaş Bayraktar
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: This report has been produced in the framework of the Empowering Civil Society for a More Democratic Local Governance Project funded by the scope of Republic of Turkey and European Union supported Partnerships and Networks Grant Program. TESEV is the lead, Şişli Municipality and Association of Union of Citizen Assemblies are the co-applicants, and the Checks and Balances Network is the associate of the project. The transition from the classical management approach to the governance approach, in which private sector and non-governmental organisations take on roles in determining public policies, has been the dominant discourse of politics for more than a quarter century. Instead of a hierarchical and monolithic bureaucratic process, this approach envisions a management triangle that engages other stakeholders. However, these governance principles have not been fully put into practice in Turkey and those that have been implemented have not yielded the expected results. The present study aims to test these statements at the level of local governments and politics. Its purpose is also to open up a discussion based on the findings of interviews and roundtables conducted in ten cities in Turkey and of a comprehensive survey administered to a nationally representative sample of civil society organisations.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organization, Governance, Democracy, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This timely session was dedicated to a debate with the President of Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to discuss central geo-political and domestic developments, including the protests and the crisis of governance in Baghdad; the Turkish invasion of Northern Syria (particularly Rojava); and finally, the effects of internal political fissures within the KRI.
  • Topic: Development, Governance, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Baghdad, Syria, Kurdistan
  • Author: Efe Baysal
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Let us face it: we are in the midst of a catastrophe, a state of calamity unprecedented in human history. We are living in those scenarios that once depicted a terrible future due to “global warming”. Extreme weather events, not-so-natural disasters have become the new norm. Given the fact that more than half of the world’s population now live in urban areas, it is fair to say that these new climate norms pose an especially dire threat to cities.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Governance, Economy, Crisis Management, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Global Focus
  • Author: Bircan Polat
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Following the March 31, 2019 local elections, the indebtedness of local governments has once again emerged as a subject of public debate in Turkey. Local government expenditures took center stage in these debates, yet much less attention has been paid to potential sources of revenue for local governments. Generation of internal sources of municipal revenue is no less important than the issue of expenditures as it pertains to the relative financial independence of municipalities from the central government. Among potential sources of municipal revenue, a significant one is taxation on urban (land) rent which occurs as a result of a few distinct processes: transformation of agricultural land into urban land due to population increase, migration, industrialization; zoning change that renders the property more valuable due to a number of potential factors such as greater proximity to parks, attractions, or highway systems.
  • Topic: Governance, Economy, Tax Systems, Public Sector, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Sezai Ozan Zeybek
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: I aim to open to discussion one of the critical barriers to potentially transformative environmental policies. In response to challenging problems there are moves being carried out to save the day, to make it seem like the issue is already solved. These moves end up postponing the real solutions. This is a trap that not only municipalities, public institutions and companies, but even civil society falls into.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Climate Change, Environment, Governance, Democracy, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mason Hill
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the second in a three part series on Turkish constitutionalism one year after the 2017 constitutional referendum. At Erdoğan’s election in 2002, he appeared to be the latest in a line of populists elected to office. Initially, his success seemed the result of an ability as an Islamist to appease the concerns of the secular establishment. This was bolstered by his stated commitment to Turkey’s accession to the European Union. While in the 1990s Islamist reformers failed to pass institutional reforms aimed at decreasing military control of Turkish politics, the military allowed Erdoğan the space to pursue institutional reform that would enhance Turkey’s chances of becoming a member of the European Union. This attempt by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to reimagine Turkish democracy for the 21st century took the form of a general push for constitutional reform.
  • Topic: Politics, Governance, Law, Elections, Constitution, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Coup
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Emrah Irzık
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Founded on a rationale that is different than access to income and the benefits of social security systems such as pensions and health insurance which are earned in exchange for work, the importance of social assistances today is increasing both in the quantitative and in the qualitative senses. To what extent however is the present social assistances regime in Turkey that is fragmented, insufficient and based on debatable principles, able to respond to the changing face of poverty?
  • Topic: Poverty, Governance, Social Policy, Universal Basic Income
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Akif Burak Atlar
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: The resurfacing of ‘populist’ legal arrangements such as raises for civil servants and pensioners, minimum wage policies, paid military service and debt restructuring that carry along vote potential are a strange tradition of our country’s politics. Zoning Peace is a legal arrangement that was part of the omnibus bill passed in the run up to the 24 June elections. As the 2018 version of zoning amnesties which have been recurring throughout Turkey’s urban history and creating spatial and legal chaos by redefining zoning rights, it has taken its place in the urban planning dictionary. What will then be the practical outcome of this new edition zoning amnesty?
  • Topic: Governance, Legislation, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Tuna Kuyucu
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Large scale urban renewal projects, or ‘urban regeneration’ projects as commonly known in Turkey, are one of the most important political tools for the transition of cities from industry into service-heavy economic structures. Since 1970s regeneration projects have triggered substantial changes in urban economic geographies and caused extensive demographic shifts in the idle industrial, coastal and low socioeconomic residential areas of cities in late-capitalist countries. Yet, in Turkey they have started being implemented much later, with the first comprehensive regeneration policy devised in 2005 when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power. Until 2000’s there existed significant financial and legal barriers to urban renewal. Struggling with budget deficits and high interest rates throughout the 90s, the state was not financially capable of urban renewal, which requires significant resources. On the other hand, Turkey’s local governance policies and financing did not allow municipalities to implement such projects by themselves. Finally, private sector actors (real estate investment trusts, major contractors, finance companies) lacked either any interest or the resources for urban renewal projects in the pre-2002 period characterised by high interest rates and inflation. When all these factors combined, despite serious need for regeneration and renewal in Turkey’s cities, unfortunately regeneration projects almost never came to life.
  • Topic: History, Governance, Legislation, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Emre Koyuncu
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: We are getting in the mood of the March 2019 local elections just as the general election has ended, and it looks as if the boat will be pushed out once again. Really, we do have a budget, right? At present, it remains an uncertainty how the central budget, our shared pool of resources, will be managed. Yet, we shall see how changes in the relations between the actors responsible for the tools, if not in the tools themselves, are reflected in practice. Hoping that they are at least transparent, we will examine budget transparency for democratic governance mainly through the lens of local government.
  • Topic: Governance, Budget, Elections, Transparency
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East