The Journey of Young Candidates in the Political Scene: Istanbul

The role of young people in Turkey’s political history, especially in local elections, is a significant subject. In a metropolis like Istanbul, the process of young candidates stepping into the political scene can be seen as a reflection of the overall political dynamics in the country. In this article, we will examine the young candidates who ran for the mayoralties of Istanbul and district municipalities in the local elections of 2009, 2014, and 2019, and explore how young people have positioned themselves in Istanbul’s local elections based on this data.

In 2009, out of 471 candidates running for mayoralties in Istanbul’s districts, only 21 were under the age of 30. During this period, the age of eligibility for candidacy was 25 (reduced to 18 in 2017), which meant that individuals aged 18-24 couldn’t run as candidates. For those aged 25-30, this election presented the first opportunity to run for office after the lowering of the eligibility age from 30 to 25 following relevant legislative changes. Unfortunately, none of the elected mayors were aged between 18 and 30. Among the 26 candidates running for the Istanbul metropolitan municipality mayoralty, there were no candidates in the 18-30 age range.

By 2014, out of 550 candidates running for district mayoralties, only 25 were under the age of 30. The struggle for young candidates to assert themselves in the political arena continued in these elections as well. However, once again, no young candidates were elected as mayors. Out of the 32 candidates running for the Istanbul metropolitan municipality mayoralty, only 2 were in the 18-30 age range, and neither of these candidates was elected.

Looking at the 2019 elections, out of 358 candidates running for district mayoralties, only 11 were under the age of 30. There is a noticeable decrease in the number of young candidates when comparing these three elections. Moreover, with the amendment made in 2018, the eligibility age was reduced from 25 to 18, allowing a wider age range of young people to become candidates. Out of the 32 candidates running for the Istanbul metropolitan municipality mayoralty, only one was in the 18-30 age range, and once again, a young candidate was not elected as mayor in this election.

These data shed light on the position of young people in Istanbul’s local elections. It is crucial for young people to be more visible in the political arena for the vitality and diversity of democracy. Therefore, policies and supportive mechanisms to encourage youth participation in politics need to be developed. How many young candidates will run for mayoralties in the upcoming election cycle, and how many will be elected? Will we see a positive change in these numbers to increase youth representation? The answers to these questions that arouse curiosity in all of us will be seen in the coming days.

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