Report on the State of Local and Regional Democracy in Turkey - CG (4) 3 Part II

Rapporteur: Mr Halvdan Skard (Norway)

1. Through Resolution 31 (1996), paragraph 11, the Congress has introduced the general practice, for all member countries, of preparing reports on the situation of local self-government. Such reports have been produced in the past for applicant countries but also for member countries like Romania or, more recently, Albania. At present, reports are under preparation concerning Italy and the Russian Federation.

2. As for Turkey, the Bureau had received certain complaints, including allegations of harrassment and dismissal of mayors and destruction of certain villages. The Turkish Delegation has made its views clear about these allegations.

3. In the light of the general policy of the Congress to look into the situation of local and regional democracy in member and applicant countries, the Bureau decided to ask a working group to prepare such a report. This was acknowledged by the Congress itself in paragraph 16 of Resolution 34 (1996), where the Congress took formal note of the Bureau's decision and decided to lay particular emphasis on Articles 3, Article 6, paragraph 2, Article 7, paragraph 1 and Article 8 of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, in this context.

4. On the occasion of the Habitat II Conference held in Istanbul in June 1996, first contact were established between the President of the Congress (Mr Alexander Tchernoff); the Rapporteur, Mr Halvdan Skard; Mrs Gaye Doganoglu; the Turkish Bureau member Mrs Gülay Atig; the President of the CLRAE Turkish delegation, Mr Ismet Gürbüz Civelek; other members of the Turkish delegation; representatives of the Turkish Municipal Association, of competent Ministries and experts.

5. This work was carried out with the collaboration of experts: Prof. Philippe De Bruycker (Belgium), Dr Reinhard Petry (Germany) and Prof Günter Hedtkamp (Germany). A meeting of the Working Group took place in Ankara from 4 to 8 December 1996. Dr Gerhard Engel was elected President of this Group. On this occasion, many meetings were held with Turkish Mayors; representatives of the Turkish Grand National Assembly; personalities from Ministries; representatives of the Turkish Municipal Association and university professors. All these meetings and the ongoing exchange with Turkish representatives proved to be very useful for the report. A report on the situation of local and regional democracy and the intended reforms was transmitted to the Working Group by the Ministry of Interior. This report is appended to the present explanatory memorandum.

6. Given the general atmosphere in Turkey and the competencies of the various Council of Europe bodies, the Working Group did not deem it appropriate to focus the main attention of the report on the situation of the Kurdish population in the South-East of the country or to investigate allegations made concerning the destruction of villages or cases of harassment or dismissal of individual Mayors or municipal councillors. This report does not therefore investigate such allegations. These items can be dealt with, and this has been the case in some instances, by the competent bodies of the Council of Europe in the field of human rights and, in particular, by the European Commission of Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights and by the European Commission for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. These Council of Europe bodies have indeed published documents concerning individual cases.
7. On the other hand, the Working Group noted, on the part of the Turkish authorities and most of its interlocutors, a genuine wish for dialogue concerning prospects for local government reform. The spirit of reform and of dialogue confirmed the intentions of Turkey as shown by its signature of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in November 1988, its ratification of the Charter on 9 December 1992 and its entry into force on 1 April 1993. It was clear from discussions with all partners that an openness and a spirit of reform existed, even though views differ amongst the partners on the extent of reform to be carried out. However, it was generally clear that such a reform should concern questions of local authority finance, of local authority staff, of state control over local and regional authorities, including an improvement of the autonomy of the regional council which would be entitled to elect its own chairperson and, in general, an enlargement of local authorities competencies.

8. The Group also shared the views of quite a number of Turkish discussion partners that genuine local and regional government reform would, even if applied in the same manner to the whole of the country, contribute to create conditions for better exercise of democratic rights, including the Kurdish-speaking population in the South-East of the country. Without establishing any direct link between such a reform of local and regional government and terrorism, the Working Group felt that the reforms might help to wipe out frustrations that in some cases could be used as a basis for terrorist action. On the other hand, it is obvious that the Group shared the view of the Turkish authorities that no democratic state can accept terrorist action on its territory and that such action is, in itself, a major threat to the functioning of democratic institutions in general but, in particular, at local level.

9. As for the general political conditions of reform, they may be rendered more difficult by two principal factors:

i. many legal aspects of local and regional government of present-day Turkey go back either to the Ottoman Empire (in the case of special provincial administrations) or to the early days of the Turkish Republic (1924 for the Villages and 1930 for the Municipalities). Turkey is a traditionally unitarian centralised State based on the principles that underlie certain constitutions in Europe, in France for example or situations like in the United Kingdom. Where such traditions exist, they may sometimes bar the way for rapid and smooth local government reform which necessitates a certain degree of decentralisation and respect for the principle of subsidiarity. On the other hand, it is clear that Turkish society has undergone major change since the establishment of the Turkish Republic more than 70 years ago. There have been far-reaching changes from an agrarian to an industrial and services society; a large number of well-trained intellectuals live in Turkish cities and Turkey has opened up to exchange of all kinds, mainly with the Western democracies in Europe. Therefore, many people in Turkey itself feel that the time for important reforms has come in many fields, including local and regional government.

ii. the second question mark with regard to reform is the weakness of the present-day political system in Turkey where one governmental crisis has succeeded another in the last few years. If this does not hamper the generally expressed will for reform, it does not create very positive conditions for the detailed discussion of reforms envisaged that might need some more political stability. However, the wish for reform is shared by all parties the Congress Working Group has been able to speak to. It was therefore felt that it would be useful to consider intended reforms and to make proposals to those responsible for reform within the Turkish political system. This is the key objective of the present report.

10. The report should therefore be seen as a basis for dialogue with Turkish authorities, dialogue which we hope to be able to continue in the future. It should also be clear that we shall be willing, as has been the case for other countries, to ask consultants with whom the Congress works on a regular basis to give opinions on draft reforms of Turkish local government legislation if the Turkish authorities (competent Ministries or Committees of the Grand National Assembly) would be willing, for their part, to accept dialogue with such European experts at a time when they are discussing projects and draft laws for reform.

11. We do not feel that this report is the right context in which to present a detailed description of the current local and regional government system in Turkey. For such a description, the reader may either refer to the report on "Structure and operation of local and regional democracy in Turkey" published by the CDLR in 1994 or to the report forwarded by the Turkish Ministry, reproduced as an Appendix to this report and which contains information not only on the current structures of local and regional government in Turkey, but also on government intentions for reform. It was therefore considered useful that substantial parts of the draft Resolution should refer to these proposals for reform and thus create the basis for a dialogue with the Turkish authorities.

12. The Rapporteur therefore hopes that this report will be seen as an effort to accompany the endeavours for reform which we have encountered in this important Council of Europe member State.


Republic of Turkey
Ministry of Interior
General Directorate for Local Authorities


6 December 1996


A. Overview

The history of local administration in Turkey goes back to the mid 19th century. However, they gained their contemporary features only after the establishment of the Republic in 1923.

The principal laws on local administrations were put into force after 1923. These are:

- the Act on Municipal Authorities (N° 1580)
- the Act on Village Administration (N° 442)
- the Act on Special Provincial Administration (N° 3360)

In addition, the Constitutions of the Republican era have included regulations on local authorities .

According to Article 127 of the current Turkish Constitution "Local administrative bodies are public corporate entities established to meet the common local needs of the inhabitants of provinces, municipal districts and villages, whose decision-making bodies are elected by the electorate as described in law, and whose principles of structure are also determined by law. The formation, duties and powers of the local administration shall be regulated by law in accordance with the principle of local administration.

(Amended: 23.7.1995-4121/12 Article) The elections for local administrations shall be held every five years in accordance with the principles set forth in Article 67. However, general or by-elections for local administrative bodies or for members thereof, which are to be held within a year before or after the general or by-elections for deputies, shall be held simultaneously with the general or by-elections for deputies. Special administrative arrangements may be introduced by law for larger urban centres.

The procedures dealing with objections to the acquisition by elected bodies of local government or their status as a body, and their loss of such status, shall be resolved by the judiciary. However, as a provisional measure, the Minister for the Interior may remove from office those bodies of local administration or their members against whom investigation or prosecution has been initiated on grounds of offenses related to their duties, pending judgment.

The central administration has the power of administrative trusteeship over local governments in the framework of principles and procedures set forth by law, with the objective of ensuring the functioning of local services in conformity with the principle of the integral unity of the administration, securing uniform public service, safeguarding the public interest and meeting local needs, in an appropriate manner.

The formation of local administrative bodies into a union with the permission of the Council of Ministers for the purpose of performing specific public services; and the functions, powers, financial and security arrangements of these unions, and their reciprocal ties and relations with the central administration, shall be regulated by law. These administrative bodies shall be allocated financial resources in proportion to their functions".

As can be understood from the aforesaid Article of the Constitution, Local administrations are an inseparable part of the executive, together with the Central authority.

The list of the laws giving responsibility and authority to local administrations is shown in Appendix I.

B. Types of local authorities

Local authorities in Turkey are of three types: Municipalities, Special Provincial Administrations and Village Administrations. Of these, municipalities are gaining in importance with the increase in urbanisation.

1. Municipalities

According to the relevant legislation, a municipal administration can be established in localities of more than 2,000 inhabitants. As to provinces and districts, municipal administration has to be instituted irrespective of their population. The number of municipalities in Turkey has increased in parallel with the increase in population.

The number of municipalities by year is shown below:
Year Number
1923 421
1935 505
1945 583
1955 809
1965 1,062
1975 1,654
1985 1,719
1996 2,820

The current percentage of the general population living in municipalities is more than 70%, whereas in 1930 it was about 26%.

In 1984, a different type of municipal administration, ie metropolitan municipal administration, defined as "Cities which comprise more than one district within their boundaries", was introduced. It was first introduced in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Their number was later extended to a total of 15.

The rates of metropolitan municipalities in relation to the total municipal population and general population are 41.6% and 29% respectively.

The number of municipalities and their distribution by population is also indicated in Appendix II.

a. Municipal Administration Bodies

aa. Ordinary Municipalities

According to Article 127 of the Constitution, the decision-making bodies of local authorities are to be elected by public ballot.

Municipalities have three principal bodies:

- the Mayor
- the Municipal Council
- the Municipal Executive Committee (Encümen)

Mayors are elected by public ballot every five years. They act as an executive body and represent the municipality. Though Mayors stand for election as candidates of political parties, once elected they are obliged to resign from any administrative role in their parties.

Members of the Municipal Council, the main decision-making body, are also elected every five years. The number of Municipal Councillors varies from nine to 55 according to the population of the municipality. Yet the number can be even greater for metropolitan councils.

The Municipal Executive Committee, headed by the Mayor, is both a decision-making and executive body, consisting of both elected and appointed members of municipal staff. The number of elected members may not exceed half the number of appointed members, and may not be fewer than two.

If conflict arises between the Mayor and the Municipal Executive Committee, the procedure is to take the conflict to the Municipal Council which has the final say on the issue. However, both the Mayor and the Executive Committee may apply to the governor if they are not satisfied with the decision of the council. If so, the final decision is taken by either the departmental commission, a body headed by the governor and composed of some top public officials, for district municipalities, and by the Council of State, the highest administrative court, for provincial municipalities.

If the conflict is between the Mayor or Executive Committee and the Municipal Council, the procedure is the same. In both cases, the Council of State requires the opinion of the departmental commission through the governor, prior to making its decision.

For the elected Mayor, there are two important instruments to put an end to his/her term of office before normal elections:

- if the Municipal Council finds his/her annual report unsatisfactory by a two thirds majority vote (three quarters majority in a metropolitan municipality), he/she may be dismissed by the Council of State upon the application of the Ministry of the Interior.

- if his responses to questions put by the councillors are found to be inadequate by a two thirds majority (three quarters in metropolitan municipalities), the Mayor may also be dismissed by the Council of State.

bb. Metropolitan municipalities

Metropolitan municipalities, of which there are currently 15, function according to the Act on Metropolitan Municipalities (N° 3030) of 1984. The Act requires a two-tier organisation within the municipal boundaries, ie the metropolitan municipality and the district municipalities. As stated above, a metropolitan municipality has to include more than one district municipality.

The metropolitan government structure consists of three main bodies:

- the metropolitan Mayor
- the metropolitan Council
- the metropolitan Executive Committee

The metropolitan Mayor is elected by popular vote every five years. He/she is the chief executive and coordinator for the metropolitan area and represents the metropolitan government. He/she has power of veto over all decisions taken either by the metropolitan or the district Municipal Councils, who may, however, override this veto with a two-thirds majority vote.

The Metropolitan Council, the main decision-making body of a metropolitan municipality, is composed of the Metropolitan Mayor, District Mayors, and one fifth of the district Municipal Councillors. The council is elected for a five-year period.

The Metropolitan Executive Committee, headed by the metropolitan Mayor or a designated deputy, is both an executive and decision-making body. Its members are the secretary general of the metropolitan government and the heads of the municipal departments of urban planning and development, public works, finance, legal affairs, personnel and administration.

District municipalities also have bodies: the Mayor, the Municipal Council and the Executive Committee .

b. Responsibilities of Municipalities

Central authorities directly provide many urban services in Turkey, either through field offices of relevant Ministries or via regional organisations of central government bodies. Amongst the most important of these services are security and police (Ministry of Interior); planning, curricula and staffing for educational institutions at all levels (Ministry of Education for primary and secondary levels, the Board of Higher Education for universities); various health services (Ministry of Health); museums and cultural facilities (Ministry of Culture and Tourism); major intercity expressways (Ministry of Public Works and Housing); all postal and telecommunications services (PTT); and, with a few exceptions, all electricity supply and distribution (TEAS and TEDAS).

The functional framework of municipalities was laid down by the Municipalities Act of 1930 which assigns a relatively wide range of responsibilities to these local authorities. The major services for which municipalities are responsible according to the law are;

- Urban planning and implementation, mapping, regulation of construction and the issuing of construction permits,
- Land development and the opening up of new settlement areas,
- Urban renewal,
- Municipal joint ventures and the production of basic urban service inputs,
- Planning and construction of social housing,
- Organisation and management of mass transportation systems, taxis and dolmuses (vehicle used for public transportation in the cities), passenger and freight terminals and parking,
- Construction and maintenance of urban highways, public squares and bridges,
- Provision of water, sewerage and public utility gas services,
- Rubbish collection and disposal, cleaning of public spaces,
- Provision of fire prevention and fire fighting services,
- Establishment and operation of slaughterhouse facilities,
- Establishment and management of recreational, cultural, educational and tourist facilities,
- Provision of veterinary services,
- Establishment and management of health and social welfare facilities,
- Municipal policing and crisis management,
- Regulation of industrial wastes with regard to environmental pollution,
- Protection and conservation of areas of natural and historical value and of coastlines.

In addition, according to Article 19 of the Municipal Law, having fulfilled the duties and services given by this Law, municipalities may execute any sort of activity concerning the common necessities of their inhabitants.

There have been significant changes in public needs and expectations at a local level and in the structure of urban settlements since the 1930s, as a result of major socio-economic and technological developments in Turkey. Certain municipal functions have become obsolete over time. In general, however, there has been a significant re-evaluation and expansion in the scope of municipal activities to meet the rapidly changing needs of urban life.

The most fundamental change took place in the post World War II period, when the rapidly accelerating pace of urbanisation of the 1950s was reflected in municipal functions. In the 1960s, the scope of authority of municipalities in regulating urban economic activities and consumption was increased. In the 1970s, certain duties in the field of environmental protection were added.

The 1984 Metropolitan Municipalities Act established the responsibilities and areas of action for metropolitan and district municipalities. According to the Act, metropolitan government's responsibilities can be summarised as follows:

- preparation of investment plans and programmes;
- preparation and implementation of master plans;
- construction and maintenance of major roads;
- building and operation of passenger and freight terminals;
- protection of environmental health;
- providing social, cultural and recreational services;
- establishment and operation of consumer product testing laboratories;
- location, construction and operation of cemeteries;
- selection of solid waste disposal sites and construction of treatment plants;
- naming and numbering of all public thoroughfares;
- construction and operation of wholesale markets and slaughterhouses;
- operation and coordination of municipal police and fire services;
- coordination of district municipal services in case of conflict between municipalities;
- implementation and coordination of city-scale joint ventures.

The 1984 Metropolitan Municipalities Act requires that all intra-city services should be carried out in accordance with plans and programmes prepared by the metropolitan municipalities within the framework of the objectives of the National Development Plans.

The district municipalities are responsible for all "basic" municipal services which are not specifically allocated to the metropolitan municipalities. As a result they share certain functions with the metropolitan municipalities. For example, the preparation and ratification of master plans are the prerogative of the metropolitan municipalities, whereas the implementation plans and plan revisions are undertaken by district authorities with the approval of metropolitan municipalities. Metropolitan municipalities are responsible for the construction and management of major roads and thoroughfares whilst the others are the responsibility of district municipalities. Both are also responsible for urban renewal. Metropolitan authorities are responsible for sewerage and water systems. Districts should engage in the construction and operation of slaughterhouses and provide social, cultural and recreational services in the same way as the metropolitan municipality.

c. Municipal finance

aa. Revenue of municipal authorities

Municipal administration can obtain income from different sources and in different forms of legality. These can be categorized as follows:

- Tax revenues: Municipal authorities are entitled to collect special taxes and fees directly according to the Act on Municipal Incomes (N° 2464). In addition, the Act on Property Tax (N° 1319 ) also gives municipalities the authority to collect real estate tax.

On the other hand, 9.25% of tax collected by the government is allocated to municipalities in accordance with the relevant Act (N° 2380). The portion corresponding to 6% of this transfer is directly linked with the population of municipalities.

Different regulations exist for metropolitan municipalities. 6% of the above-mentioned share is distributed between the metropolitan municipality and district municipalities. In addition, metropolitan municipalities receive 5% of the share from the government tax collection incurred within their boundaries. Tax revenues account for 60% of the total revenue of municipalities.

- Non-tax revenue: This includes participation fees in investments, revenue of associations and cooperatives managed by municipal authorities, operational profits, revenue on goods belonging to municipal authorities, fees, fines and others. These constitute up to 37% of the total revenue of municipal authorities.

- The remaining 3% is made up of private contributions and special taxes called "fons" (funds).

Main municipal sources of revenue are indicated in Appendix lll.

bb. Expenditure of municipal authorities

Current expenditure, investment expenditure and transfer expenditure are the main kinds of expenditure in municipalities. Their rates and sub-divisions appear in Appendix lV.

Some general indicators related to municipal expenditure are also mentioned in Appendix V.

d. Staff of the municipal administration

Municipal Administration staff is divided between those who are elected and those who are appointed. Elected staff are the Mayor and members of Municipal Councils. The latter is divided into four categories of civil servants, staff employed on a contractual basis, permanent staff and seasonal workers.

Today the total number of the latter, except for seasonal workers, has reached to 265,981 (159,048 civil servants, 106,360 workers, 573 members of staff employed on a contractual basis).

They are locally recruited. All staff categories are under the supervision of their immediate superior and under the authority of the ultimate superior, the Mayor.

Local authority staff regulations are those same as those for central government civil servants.

Local authorities are not free to increase as they wish the number of local jobs. They can do this exclusively within the limits defined by the law and Government regulations.

The suspension and dismissal of local authority staff are managed by local authorities themselves in accordance with the general legal principles.

In principle, staff within local authorities are not answerable to the central government. However, Special Provincial Administrations have a particular position. The governor is not only the representative of the state, but also the executive of the Special Provincial Administration. In his first capacity, he is answerable to the central government.

On the other hand, the governor, as the representative of the centre, can supervise some decisions of the Municipal Councils, for example the approval and modification of local budgets. This supervision is exercised only to check the legality of the council decisions, and it does not entail its expediency. The Council can apply to the administrative court against the changes made to the budget directly by the governor.

e. Trusteeship control on municipalities

aa. In general

According to Article 127 of the Constitution, the central administration "has the power of administrative trusteeship over local governments in the framework of principles and procedures set forth by law with the objective of ensuring the functioning of the integral unity of the administration, securing uniform public service, safeguarding the public interest and meeting local needs, in an appropriate manner"

The objectives of trusteeship defined by the Constitution are as follows:

- ensuring the functioning of local services in conformity with the principle of the integral unity of administration,
- securing uniformity of the public services,
- safeguarding the public interest,
- satisfying local needs in line with the public welfare principle,
- meeting local needs in an appropriate manner,
- increasing the effectiveness, efficiency and stability of local authority activities.

The trusteeship of the central government over local authorities is exercised upon :
- the decision,
- actions and activities,
- bodies,
- the personnel of local authorities.

Supervision takes the form of:
- approval,
- postponement,
- cancellation,
- permission for some decisions.

Trusteeship prerogatives and their limits are prescribed by the Constitution and by law. The administrative trusteeship on local authorities is generally exercised by the Ministry of the Interior and, in regions, by provincial and district governors.

It has to be noted in this connection that the Ministry of the Interior recently (January 1994) delegated some of its supervisory powers to provincial governors to reduce excessive centralisation.

In some cases, the authority to supervise local decisions is given to the Council of Ministers, other individual Ministries or the Council of State.

On the other hand, as a body of financial control, the Supreme Court of Public Accounts (Sayıştay) is also empowered with trusteeship competence on local authorities with respect to legal and financial control.

bb. Temporary suspension of mayors

Article 127 of the Constitution states that "the procedures dealing with objections to the acquisition by elected bodies of local government or their status as a body, and their lose of such status, shall be resolved by the judiciary. However as a provisional preventive measure, the Minister of the Interior may remove from office those bodies of local administration or their members against whom investigation or prosecution has been initiated on grounds of offenses related to their duties, pending judgement"

The main reasons for suspension are usually related to the commencement of an investigation or prosecution initiated on the grounds of offenses concerning the legal duties of the local bodies, as stated in the Constitution.

The other reasons behind this prerogative are:

- to allow the normal functioning of the judiciary procedure (investigation and prosecution),
- to avoid the risk of destruction of evidence.

The procedure to exercise this power begins either by the application of the governor to the Minister or by direct action by the Minister himself, upon an investigation carried out by the inspectors of the Ministry.

If an elected Mayor is thus suspended by the Minister, the governor has to call the Municipal Council to convene within 10 days. An interim Mayor (or acting Mayor) is elected in this meeting from among the members of the council, to serve until the new elections or until the return of the former Mayor himself, depending upon the decision of the court.

The power of "temporary suspension of Mayors until a Judicial decision is taken", given to the Minister of the Interior; ceases to exist until the ultimate judiciary decision is made.

If the verdict of the judiciary requires the permanent dismissal of the Mayor, the legal procedure prescribed in the Law on Municipal Administrations is put into action. According to the relevant Article of the aforesaid Law, the permanent removal of Mayors can only be pronounced by the Council of State, acting as the highest administrative tribunal.

The prerogative given to the Minister of the Interior has been used 81 times between 1989 and 1996 (Appendix Vl). As will be seen in Appendix Vl, it has been used 12 times during 1996, up to today. This figure corresponds to 0.4% of the total number of Mayors.

Six of them have returned to their office; two of them have been arrested at the end of their trials; the periods of prosecution continue for three of them; and one of them has been dismissed permanently by the Council of State, in accordance with the relevant Laws.

It should be pointed out that, if a Mayor is arrested by a judge, there is no legal provision concerning the choice of an acting Mayor and how he/she should be elected. However, there is a provision in the Act (N° 1580, Article 93) for the Mayor who is removed temporarily from his office by the Minister of Interior. In the second case, the Municipal Council must elect an acting Mayor from its members at the request of the governor. As a result, the Minister of the interior must suspend a Mayor who has been arrested by a judge, in order to enable the Municipal Council to elect an acting Mayor in accordance with Article 93 of Act N° 1580.

2. Special Provincial Administrations

Special Provincial Administrations (SPAs) were created and their tasks were assigned by a law proclaimed in 1913 (General Administration of Provinces Act), at the time of the Ottoman Empire. This Act defined the SPAs as bodies assigned responsibility for various functions, particularly in the areas of health, education, agriculture, public works and social security. It was not replaced upon the creation of the Republic (1923). However, in 1987, it was amended by Law N° 3360 and took the name of "Law on Special Provincial Administrations".
The SPA basically covers the tasks of rural areas which remain outside the boundaries of municipalities. No formality is required for their establishment. The creation of a new Province automatically means the institution of a new provincial authority. The number of SPAs is currently 80.

During the early years of the Republic, SPAs were given the task of carrying out many public services of a local nature, mostly in rural areas. Progressively, with the Laws of establishment of new organisations, some of their tasks have been put in the area of interest of several Ministries and other central authority bodies. SPAs are at present acting as a helping body for the local public services activities of central authority bodies

a. Bodies of SPAs

The decision-making authorities of SPAs are the Provincial Councils, which are elected for a period of five years. The executive body of a SPA is composed of the Executive Committee on the one hand, which is elected by Provincial Councils, and the Governor on the other, who is appointed by the central authority. In addition to their duties in relation to the central authority, Governors' tasks concerning provincial administration include the implementation of decisions taken by Provincial Councils.

Governors present an annual report regarding activities carried out to the provincial council. If the council finds it unsatisfactory with a two thirds majority of votes, it reports its opinion to the Ministry of the Interior.

b. Revenue of SPAs

The Law on Special Provincial Administration (N° 3360) determines the sources of their revenue. Law N° 2380 allocates 1.70% of all taxes collected by the State (Central Authority) to provincial administrations. The portion corresponding to 1.4% of this transfer is directly linked to the population of the province.

Apart from this share of national tax revenues, SPAs have their own tax revenues. However, these constitute a very small share of overall SPA revenues (around 1.5%).

3. Villages

Villages constitute the traditional Turkish settlement. Village administrations were created and their tasks were assigned by the Law on Village Administration (Law N° 442). This Law has been amended several times.

Revenues of village authorities derive from several sources laid down in the Villages Act: capitation tax, community service tax, charges, dues and fees .

Capitation tax was introduced as an temporary source of funding in times when ordinary village revenue proved insufficient to pay for obligatory services, the monthly wages and annual remuneration of the muhtar, watchmen and others engaged in performing village services. However, since the central government has often failed to provide assistance at all or only in inadequate amounts, the tax has become widely applied. The tax is means adjusted, has a maximum limit, and is payable either in cash, or in a kind of community service. Revenues raised from sources other than capitation and community service tax are negligible in practice.

The bodies of the village administrations are the head man (muhtar), the executive committee and village council, which is composed of local electorate.

The head of the village: head man (muhtar), who is an elected official, has duties related to the local affairs of the village as well as to the Government . Due to financial insufficiencies, tasks assigned to villages are progressively taken up by Special Provincial Administrations and by central administration bodies.

C. Local Electoral System

1. Legislation on local elections

Elections are held under the supervision of the judiciary in accordance with the Constitution and the relevant Law.

The relevant legislation on local elections in Turkey consists of:

- N° 298, Law on the Main Principles of Elections and Registration,
- Deputy Elections Law, N° 2839,
- N° 2972, Law on the Elections of Local Authorities, Headman and Elderly Commissions,
- Political Parties Law, N° 2820,
and their related regulations.

In this framework, according to paragraph 14 of the above-mentioned Law, Nr. 298 and paragraph 79 of the Constitution, a "Supreme Committee of Elections" (SCE) has also been constituted, responsible for managing and carrying out all electoral procedures and examining and making decisions on all complaints, objections and irregularities. The results of elections can neither be supervised nor controlled by any other authority other than the SCE. Accordingly, there exists a "Provincial Committee of Elections" in every electoral area, a "District Committee of Elections" in every district and a "Polling Committee" for each polling station.

The SCE consists of seven representatives and four substitute members, elected for a 6 year period by secret ballot. Six of them are from the Supreme Court, four from the Council of State.

2. Eligibility

a. Active eligibility

Everyone who has "Turkish Nationality" recorded on his/her identity card and who is over the age of 18, has the right to vote.

Anyone who is drafted (in the army), a cadet (in a military school) or under arrest, cannot vote. A person who is restricted or forbidden to work in the public sector cannot vote either.

b. Passive eligibility

Every Turkish citizen over the age of 30 can be a candidate for election as a Deputy and every Turkish citizen over the age of 25 can be a candidate for election as a Mayor, a member of the City Council or the Provincial Council.

3. Restricted persons

People who:

- have not graduated from primary school,
- are "restricted",
- have not fulfilled their military service.
- are forbidden to work in the public sector by decision of court.
- are sentenced to prison for at least one year except for a negligent crime,
- even if they are exempted:

. People sentenced for conspiracy in public tenders, smuggling or spying,
. People sentenced for discriminatory crimes,
. People sentenced for separatist political and ideological crimes.

cannot present their candidatures for election in national or local elections.

4. Political parties and groups

Political parties can be constituted freely in the framework of the Constitution and related legislation. Any Turkish Citizen over the age of 21, fulfilling the requirements of the related laws or regulations, has the right to be registered as a member or resign from membership of a political party. One cannot be the member of more than one political party at the same time. Nor can he or she be a member of more than one (branch) organisation in a political party at the same time, as these are causes for exclusion.

Attorneys, Prosecutors, Members of the Supreme Courts, Academicians, students, members of the Military Forces and civil servants included in Public Personnel Law N° 657 are restricted from being a member of a political party together with those excluded from the passive eligibility requirements.

In order to participate in an election, a political party must have completed its organisation process in at least half of the country's provinces six months before the election date; must have held the Major Congress or must have a group in the Grand National Assembly.

Political parties choose their candidates for local or national elections from suitable applicants, either via a pre-election system with equal, secret ballot and open counting (called Central roll-call) or via the quota system.

Restrictions for political parties are as follows:

- A political party's regulations, facilities and programmes cannot be in conflict with the Constitution and related Laws, and a party's facility can not exceed the aims and activities determined by its own Regulations.

- A party cannot constitute foundations, associations, unions, cooperatives, chambers etc. They cannot obtain or give financial support from/to them, nor can they ever act together with them.

- Party activities have to comply with democratic principles.

- Party members cannot hold symbols as uniforms, armbands etc. and cannot carry the functions of security forces.

- Political parties cannot even attempt to:

- change the form of government , the Republic.

- damage the unity and independence of the Republic or be against the national language, flag etc.

- use discriminatory propaganda because of language, race, ethnic origin, religion etc, or try to constitute a state order objecting to the above concepts.

- facilitate activities inclining towards the domination of one social group over another.

- perform educating and training activities as preparatory for the defence, security or civil defense services.

- cherish aims contrary to general public ethics.

- cherish aims contrary to the fundamental rights and freedoms laid out in the Constitution.

- create party organisations abroad.

- receive aid, take orders from other states, international organisations, foreign foundations etc, against Turkey's independence and unity.

- hold religious-aimed meetings.

During election campaigns, after the validation of paragraph 63 of Law N° 298, until the end of the voting day, it is forbidden to use propaganda or publish programmes about governmental tasks.

5. Voting registration system

Electoral Area: in elections,every province is considered as an electoral area and every head man unit as an electoral region. Every electoral region is separated into the required amount of "ballot regions". Each "ballot region" contains approximately 300 voters.

Conditions for registration: For SCEs, there are a "General Directorate of Electoral Roll" and "Bureau of Electoral Roll" responsible for registering the electors.

Before the elections, a registration form called the "electoral card" is sent to head man offices to be delivered to voters, containing necessary information together with the polling station's address and number. The electoral roll and the electoral cards are the main and only valid documents to identify a person as a "voter". People concerning whom information is not found or differs from the lists of the copies of the Ballot Commissions, cannot vote. At the same time, people who are registered on more than one ballot list are excluded from the register.

6. Voting system

The electoral system is based on an unrestricted, free, equal, one round, general voting principle. Votes can only be used by voters themselves, with a secret ballot. The public is informed on the way of voting, either via the mass media or on the electoral card. Electoral cards contain information about where and in which polling station the voter has to vote, while the media enlightens people about how and when the voting will happen.

In national elections, the voters use just one vote, either for a political party whose candidates are determined ranking before the elections, or for an independent candidate. In local elections, four or five separate votes have to be used, one for the Mayor, one for the city council, one for the provincial council, one for the head man and, in some areas, one for the Mayor of the metropolitan city.

Every ballot has its own "Ballot Commission", consisting of a chairman, six representatives and six substitute members. The chairman of the Ballot Commission is appointed by the District Commission of Elections from amongst the region's well-educated people with a good reputation.

Five of the other six should be political members who have gained a majority of the votes in sequence in the last elections. The final member is chosen from the members of the Elderly Committee, an executive body of the village and quarter.

7. Counting

Once the voting is over, the Ballot Commission starts counting. Counting has to be open to the public. The envelopes are opened; both the envelopes and the vote cards are controlled one by one by the Commission. The voters from the list, the number of envelopes and the vote cards are counted and the totals are compared. Results are written as minutes together with any objections and then all of them put in an empty special bag, closed tightly, stamped and submitted to the District Commission of Elections (DCE) by the political supervisors and security staff. The objections are evaluated in the DCE and, if the DCE finds it necessary, the votes may be recounted by the DCE. With another copy of the minutes, the results are also proclaimed to the public at the polling station. The final results are then sent to the Provincial Commission of Elections and from there to the SCE.

8. Attribution of votes

The calculation of the system can be said to be proportional with barrage. In the last national elections, the national barrage was determined as 10% and any political party which did not exceed the 10% national barrage did not have a Deputy elected.

However, in local elections, the barrage system does not exist.

9. Control and supervision of the electoral procedures

After all the results have been obtained, the SCE proclaims the official results of the elections. These cannot be objected to or rejected in any circumstances. As pointed out above, the SCE is the only body authorised to control and supervise the elections and its decisions can neither be supervised nor controlled by any other authority, even by the Government. As the SCE consists of high judges, its decisions are of judicial quality and cannot be subject to any governmental control. Security forces are on duty during the elections for urgent interventions and can intervene only at the request of the ballot commission.


Turkey signed the Charter on 21 November 1988 and its ratification was decided upon by the Turkish Grand National Assembly, via Law N° 3723 of 8 May 1991. This occurred in conformity with Article 90 paragraph 1 of the Turkish Constitution.

The Charter entered into force on 1 April 1993. According to Article 12, paragraph 2 of the Charter, the Republic of Turkey declared that the following Articles were binding:

- Article 2
- Article 3, paragraphs 1 and 2
- Article 4, paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
- Article 5
- Article 6 paragraph 2v
- Article 7 paragraphs 1 and 2
- Article 8 paragraphs 1 and 2
- Article 9 paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 5 and 8
- Article 10 , paragraph 1

According to Article 90, paragraph 1 of the Turkish Constitution, "the ratification of treaties concluded with foreign states and international organisations on behalf of the Republic of Turkey shall be subject to adoption by the Grand National Assembly by a Law approving the ratification."

Once the Charter has been incorporated into the domestic law following the approval of the Grand National Assembly, it is subject to change only following the same procedure.

Paragraph 4 of Article 90 explains the status of ratified international agreements in the following terms: "international agreements duly put into effect carry the force of law. No appeal to the Constitutional Court can be made with regard to these agreements, on the grounds that they are unconstitutional."

It is possible to launch an appeal in the Constitutional Court on the grounds that a law is unconstitutional, except for international agreements.


1. Overview

Increasing urbanisation; continuing technological and sociological changes and improvements; developments in the fields of democracy and human rights; the abandonment of centralised structures; globalisation; increasing awareness on environmental issues and regional awareness; increased efficiency and productivity: these are some of the elements which have led to new perceptions and ideas in local authorities as well as in other aspects of life.

On the other hand, the process of integration with Europe has given a new momentum by the implementation of a customs union with the European Union, and this has accelerated the need to adopt new ideas concerning local administration. Local authorities are the pillars of the democratic regimes and it is the citizens' democratic right to participate in the self-government process. Furthermore, performing local services according to the subsidiarity principle is one of the main aspects of modern management.

With this in mind, the Ministry of the Interior has prepared three draft bills which cover all aspects of reform cited above. The objective is to reorganise the local administration system. The three drafts which have been finalised, taking into consideration all criticisms and proposals, are as follows:

- Draft Law Amending Law N° 1580 on Municipal Authorities and Other Laws concerning Local Authorities

- Draft Law Amending Law N° 3030 On Metropolitan Municipalities

- Draft Law Amending Law N° 3360 on Provincial Administrations

2. Aims of the reform

- To provide local services to be undertaken by the local authorities in line with the self-government and full-authority principle, and transfer such functions from central authority to local authorities.

- To allow local authorities to obtain financial resources and create the organisations which their duties and responsibilities necessitate.

- To increase the share of expenditure of local administration within the total public expenditure.

- To improve the decision-making and implementation abilities of local authorities and to stamp out the unnecessary trusteeship of the central authority on local administrations.

- To set up a participatory and transparent administrative structure in local authorities.

- To facilitate the privatisation of certain services rendered by the local authorities.

- To develop co-operation and collaboration between the local authorities

- To arrange the legislations defining the tasks and responsibilities of metropolitan and district municipalities which are in conflict and to make the metropolitan municipalities more effective within the scope of giving services in a holistic manner within the boundaries of the metropolitan area.

- To respond to the need of services and development of villages by establishing units among villages, based on Article 127 of the Constitution.

3. Improvements to be introduced

a. Improvements related to all types of local authorities
i. As mentioned above, all local services, including the ones performed by central authorities, may be undertaken by local authorities and they will be provided with the necessary financial resources. In addition, local administrations are authorised to carry out all local and common services except the ones forbidden by Laws and not given to any other authority exclusively.

ii. Local authorities will have an increased role in planning and implementation facilities of local authorities within the boundaries of their authorised area, directly by taking decisions with their own bodies; and the existing central trusteeship will also be reduced.

iii. ln parallel to the transfer of authority and ability to render services by local authorities, the Council of Ministers will be authorised to increase twofold the share of the general budget allocated to municipalities and tenfold the share allocated to Special Provincial Authorities.

iv. Local authorities will be granted the right to look for new sources of revenue, via a decision of the competent body of the local authority.

v. The transfer of duties and responsibilities to Governors of Provinces (Vali) and Districts (Kaymakam) by the central government will be introduced along the principle of decentralisation and devolution.

vi. B.O.T. (Build-Operate-Transfer) models will be allowed, together with the facilitation of certain services via privatisation.

vii. Measures will be introduced to facilitate staff recruitment and changes in their status, as well as incitements of staff of different status by local authorities.

viii. Measures will be taken to facilitate local authority relations with Banks, concerning investment of unused funds, collection of taxes and sponsoring of social services rendered by local authorities.
ix. Opportunities for co-operation between local authorities will be created; municipalities and Special Provincial Administrations will be obliged to transfer resources respectively to district and village budgets.

x. Village head men (Muhtar) may participate as full members in Provincial Councils and District Headmen as full members in Municipal Councils.

xi. Professional associations and other specialised committees will be allowed to attend Provincial and Municipal Councils as observers, without the right to vote.

xii. The powers of municipalities and Special Provincial Administrations will be increased, in order to develop new housing areas and their construction abilities.

xiii. Land owned by the State may be transferred to municipalities and Special Provincial Administrations.

xiv. Local administrations will no longer transfer funds from their budgets to any other public department .

xv. The possibility for local authorities to subsidise amateur sport clubs is to be introduced.

xvi. A local Authorities Research and Education Institute will be created within the Ministry of the Interior .

xvii. Local authorities should preferably employ graduates of professional Lycees and High Schools specialising in local government.

xviii. Local authorities will no longer be obliged to seek the permission of the Council of Ministers in purchasing vehicles.

xix. Members of Provincial Councils and Municipal Councils will benefit from social security.

b. Improvements related to municipalities and metropolitan municipalities

i. The creation of new municipalities will be carried out according to the principle of optimal service area.

ii. Special Municipal Security Staff (zab_ta) will be authorised for the control of areas in terms of construction, environment and tourism.

iii. Metropolitan authorities will be responsible for the setting of new development areas (for industry and commerce especially).

iv. The authority of Metropolitan Municipalities will be increased when it comes to the whole municipal matters within the whole metropolitan area.

v. In this framework, Metropolitan Municipalities will be invested with full authority to make and ratify both the master and the implementation (application) plans, together with the trusteeship on these related subject of the district municipalities.

vi. Metropolitan Municipalities will be responsible for the protection of water basins and other areas within their boundaries.

vii. Powers to control and, if necessary, to impose fines on low quality coal and fuel oil will be given to Metropolitan Municipalities for the prevention of air pollution.

viii. The responsibility for roads (currently under the General Directorate of Public Highways); recreational forests, dams and lakes that are out of service, all within the metropolitan municipal boundaries, will be transferred to the responsibility of the Metropolitan Municipal Authority.

ix. Metropolitan municipalities will be authorised to create educational units in the framework of the Law on Private Education Centres.

x. The authority to regulate and control traffic will be given to metropolitan municipalities as of 31.12.1997. The Traffic Commission's task will be transferred to Metropolitan Municipalities' Transport Coordination Centres.

xi. The issuing of licenses for production, sale and conservation of food and monitoring thereof will be taken over by metropolitan municipalities.

xii. The monthly salaries of the Mayors of metropolitan municipalities will be both in line with those of MPs and calculated according to the population of the municipality.

c. Improvements related to Special Provincial Administrations and villages

i. Special Provincial Administrations will be given the possibility to create a new organisation according to local conditions and needs of services. This will be done under the leadership of secretary generals, via Departments at the provincial level and Sections at district level. This organisation, which is to be supervised by Governors, will allow transfers of staff from central to local administration.

ii. In parallel with the transfer of authority and service, local branches of the central administration will progressively become branches of Special Provincial Administrations.

iii. The General Directorate of Rural Services will be closed down as of 31.12.1997. Its duties and authorities will be taken over by Special Provincial Administrations.

iv. In districts, local branches of Special Provincial Administration and its Councils will be established. Members of these District Councils will be the Mayors, village and district head men (muhtar) and representatives of the public sector. These Councils will be presided by District Governors (Kaymakam) and will give opinions on matters related to services and investments.

v. Units to provide services to villages will also be instituted. Presided over by district Governors, they will be given a share from the General Budget and will support projects related to villages.

vi. Provincial Councils will be given the prerogative to elect their president.

vii. Special Provincial Administrations are authorised to set their own security staff (zab_ta) and to carry out controls in fields such as tourism, construction and environment.

viii. With the approval of the Ministry of the Interior, Special Provincial Administrations are also authorised to create special security branches which will operate in the field of protection of installations of education, health, culture, tourism, historical sites, museums, commerce and industry.

ix. With all these measures, it is expected that local authorities' services and level of efficiency will increase and that, along with other branches of the executive, they will be in a position to make decisions more quickly, to provide services more efficiently and to broaden their participatory nature.

x. The new drafts have taken their inspirations not only from the specific needs of the country, but also from developments throughout the world and from the philosophy of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.

xi. When the drafts progress to incorporate all ideas arising from public debate and are adopted, Turkey believes it will have fulfilled its share in the achievement of the European ideals on local self-government.

1. Relevant Legislative Texts (see, Appendix I) .

2. Three Draft Acts on Reforming the Local Administration System in Turkey:

- Draft Law Amending Law No. 1580 on Municipal Authorities and Other Laws concerning Local Authorities.
- Draft Law Amending Law No. 3030 on Metropolitan Municipalities.
- Draft Law Amending Law No. 3360 on Provincial Administrations.

3. Information Paper issued by the Council of Europe on Structure and Operation of Local and Regional Democracy in Turkey Situation in 1992.

4. Replies to the Questionnaires of the Council of Europe, by G.A.L.O International Branch:

- Monitoring the Implementation of the European Charter on Local Self - Government (four replies to the questionnaires on this subject).
- Local Finance In Europe
- The Limitations of Municipal Taxation and Vertical and Horizontal Financial Equalisation in Favour of Municipalities.

5. Reply to the Questionnaire on "Institutional Relations Between Central and Regional Authorities and Local Authorities" , by Dr. Ru_en KELES.

6. Local and Regional Electoral Systems and Scrutiny in Turkey, Prepared for Council of Europe, by Zerrin YENER, Member of the Turkish Delegation to the CLRAE.


Main legislative texts concerning local authorities:

1. General Administration of Provinces Act of 1913;
2. Law on Village Administration of 1924;
3. Law on Municipal Authorities of 1930;
4. General Health Protection Law of 1930;
5. Municipal Penalties Law Amendment of 1930;
6. The Bank of Municipalities Law of 1933;
7. Bank of the Provinces Law 1945;
8. Municipal Revenues Law of 1948;
9. Law on the Inclusion of Mass Housing into Municipal Jurisdiction, 1950;
10. Urban Planning and Development Law of 1956;
11. Ministry of Reconstruction and Resettlement Law of 1958;
12. Consumer Protection and Wholesale Markets Law of 1960;
13. Turkish Constitution of 1961 (Article 116);
14. Cabinet Decree on the Environment of Master Plan Bureaux for Metropolitan Areas, 1965;
15. Squatter Housing (Gecekondu) Law of 1966;
16. Cabinet Decree on the Establishment of the Ministry of Local Authorities, 1978;
17. Turkish Constitution of 1982 (Article 127);
18. Municipal Revenues Law of 1981;
19. Municipal Revenues Law Amendments of 1984;
20. Special Law on Metropolitan Government of 1984;
21. Mass Housing Fund Law Amendment of 1984;
22. Urban Planning and Development Law of 1985;
23. Property Tax Amendment Law of 1985;
24. Environmental Law of 1986;
25. Law on Special Provincial Administration of 1986;
26. B.O.T. Law of 1994;
27. Consumer Protection Law of 1995;


Number of Municipalities and their distribution in terms of population (Year 1996):


Up to 10,000 2,297
10,000 - 20,000 209
20,000 - 50,000 145
50,000 - 100,000 69
100,000 - 500,000 80
Over - 500,000 5
Metropolitan City 15


Total 2,820


The rates of main municipal revenues within total municipal revenues (year 1992):

Their combined total
Local revenue (%)

1. Tax Revenues 60.6%

a. Share of the payments General Budget
tax revenues (shared taxes) 83.6%

b. Municipal taxes (Exclusively local taxes) 10.8%

- Real estate taxes 4.7%
- Other municipal taxes 6.43%

c. Municipal duties 5.5%

2. Revenues other than Taxes 36.8%

a. Contribution of expenditure
(fees and charges) 3.9%
b. Revenues of institutions and enterprises
managed by municipalities 16.4%
c. Profits of enterprises 1.4%
d. Revenues from municipal properties 35.3%
e. Wages 5.9%
f. Fines 3.8%
g. Other 33.2%

3. Special aid and funds 2.5%

a. Special aid 78.1%
b. Special funds 21.9%


The types of expenditure of Municipal Authorities and their combined total expenditure

Share in local expenditure

Total Local Expenditures 100%

1. Current Expenditures 55%

Personnel 79.6%
Compensation 0.4%
Service 7%
Consumption goods and material 11.5%
Furniture 0.9%
Other 0.6%

2. Investment expenditures 23%

Machinery, equipment
and means of transportation 18.9%
Buildings, installations and
large repairs 81.1%

3. Transfer expenditures 22%

Expropriation and purchases
of fixed assets 13%
Participation and capital
Economic transfers 4.5%
Financial transfers 32.8%
Social transfers 4.2%
Debt Payments 37%


Some General Indicators related to municipal expenditures (year 1992):

1. The percentage of total expenditure incurred by
municipalities to the state GDP 2.41 %

2. The percentage of total expenditure incurred by
municipalities to the total state expenditure 12.3 %

3. Municipal investment expenditure as a
percentage of total municipal expenditure 23 %

4. Municipal current expenditure as a
percentage of total municipal expenditure 55 %

5. Municipal investment expenditure as a percentage
of general government investment expenditure
(Central Government investment expenditure + local
and regional authorities' investment expenditure) 16 %