Historical Background

Turkey is among the countries with strong central government, where local governments have not been adequately empowered. Special provincial administrations, a kind of regional government across provinces established by law in 1914, have to date been inhibited from flourishing by the central government. Municipalities on the other hand were established by law in 1930. They too failed to make notable progress until the 1960s due to limited functions and financial resources.


The year 1963 marked a turning point for municipalities when direct popular vote was introduced to elect mayors, making the municipalities politically more significant. Another milestone in municipal history was the devolution of land development planning powers to municipalities in 1985. Laws on local governments were revised and re-enacted in 2004 and 2005 introducing reforms that strengthened their administrative autonomy and boosted their financial resources and powers.


The status of metropolitan municipality was introduced in 1984 for large cities (i.e. metropolis) setting up a two-tier local government structure with district municipalities as the lower tier in charge of micro-services, and the metropolitan municipality as the upper tier in charge of macro-services. In 2014, the metropolitan status was accorded to a total of 30 cities, collectively holding today 70% of the national population.


Special provincial administrations and villages were abolished in the provinces where the metropolitan status was accorded, leaving the municipality as the sole local government.