Representation of Youth in Local Politics in Türkiye

As the Arayüz Campaign, we are in need of data-driven and high-quality research on the political representation of young people in Türkiye. Producing work to fill this gap not only supports our efforts but also provides strong arguments for evidence-based advocacy by other youth organizations. With this motivation, we have created this information note, which analyzes the representation of young people in local governments and presents compiled data.

Comprehensive and detailed information on the political representation of young people in the literature is limited, particularly regarding their representation in local governments. Existing studies often focus on political participation at the national level, with limited statistics on local representation lacking depth.

In this information note, we have comparatively examined the representation of young people in provincial general assemblies, town, district, provincial and metropolitan mayoralties, and municipal councils over a historical period covering the elections of 2009, 2014, and 2019, using data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TURKSTAT) and the Supreme Election Council (SEC). Our analyses reveal the level of representation of young people and the changes over time. However, our study has limitations due to the lack of digital election data from elections before 2009 in the SEC open data portal and TURKSTAT compilations. Therefore, it cannot fully capture all changes in the historical process. Nevertheless, it partially addresses this gap by including elections held after the lowering of the eligibility age from 30 to 25 and then from 25 to 18. Another important aspect when analyzing local representation statistics is examining mukhtarship data to provide a neighborhood-based perspective. However, this study does not include age distributions of mukhtars primarily due to the lack of neatly compiled age statistics for mukhtarship and the absence of a study by TURKSTAT on this matter.

This study develops policy recommendations to increase the representation of young people in local governments and proposes concrete steps to improve the current situation. As the Arayüz Campaign, we support young candidates, exert pressure on political parties to create space for young people, and strive to raise awareness in the public sphere.

This study strengthens our claims with concrete arguments based on evidence. We hope that this work inspires other youth organizations and supports their efforts as well.

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