Local Governance and Regional Development: Current Perspectives

by Fatih AYHAN (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 288 Pages

Table Of Content

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List of Contributors

Dr. Arif İğdeli

Aksaray University, Turkey

Dr. Başak Gök

Gazi University, Turkey

Dr. Çağlar Burak Burtan

Bandirma Onyedi Eylul

University, Turkey

Elias Esteban Silva Lecuna

Bandirma Onyedi Eylul

University, Turkey

Emine Fırat

Canakkale Onsekiz Mart

University, Turkey

Assoc. Prof. Fatih Ayhan

Bandirma Onyedi Eylul

University, Turkey

Dr. Faruk Mike

Hakkari University, Turkey

Prof. Dr. Filiz Balta Peltekoğlu

Marmara University, Turkey

Dr. Gürçem Özaytürk

Niğde Omer Halisdemir

Universityy, Turkey

Prof. Dr. Hadi Gökçen

Gazi University, Turkey

Dr. Mehmet Ali Polat

Malatya Turgut Ozal

Universityy, Turkey

Assoc. Prof. Nadia Loukil

Université Tunis-EL Manar, Tunisia

Dr. Hasan Acar

Gendarmerie and Coast

Guard Academy, Turkey

Dr. Muhammet Arucu

Bandirma Onyedi Eylul

Universityy, Turkey

Dr. Olivier Gajac

Galatasaray University, Turkey

Dr. Omca Altın

Kastamonu University, Turkey

Assoc. Prof. Ouidad Yousfi

University of Montpellier, France

Dr. Peyman Uysal

Antalya Bilim University, Turkey

Dr. Salih Ziya Kutlu

Canakkale Onsekiz Mart

Universityy, Turkey

Dr. Selin Pelek

Galatasaray University, Turkey

Dr. Taner Kalaycı

Bandirma Onyedi Eylul

Universityy, Turkey

Yunus Karaağaç

Istanbul Arel University, Turkey

Dr. Zuhal Akbayır

Marmara University, Turkey

Dr. Zuhal Önez Çetin

Usak University, Turkey

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Dr. Çağlar Burak Burtan

1.1 Justification of Administrative Procedures and Evaluation of Implied Refuses on the Axis of Local Governments

Abstract: Administrative transactions have an efficiency that serves to explain the will of the administration. This situation also makes the administrative procedures stronger as they are realizing the provisions and results from the moment they are made. When administrative transactions are evaluated together with the five elements they have, it is clear that these transactions should have a causal link in terms of cause and effect. The existence of the specified cause-effect relationship brings along the obligation of the administrative act to be justified. Therefore, the administration should be able to explain the reason for the preparation of the said transaction while creating its administrative transactions. When we look at the axis of the Turkish administrative organization, we come across the concept of implied refusal, which the administration uses in some cases. In particular, in municipal administrations, which are a type of local government in practice, responding to the applications made by individuals through tacit refusal is a quality that needs to be examined. Although there are benefits of decentralization elements; the implicit refusal through silence can be interpreted together with the disadvantages of decentralization. In this case, the result arises that the period of responding to the application made to the administration can be extended in favor of the administration with sixty days, which is the general litigation period in the administrative court (but against the applicant, within the framework of the freedom to obtain information and to seek remedies). Making amendments in the Administrative Jurisdiction Procedure Law on the tacit rejection of the application and introducing regulations in accordance with the justification principle, which must be in administrative proceedings, will also ensure the transparency of the administration.

Keywords: Turkish administration, Local administrations, Municipal administration, Administrative procedures, Justification, European Law of Good Administrative Behavior, Implied refusal.


The administration creates public services in order to achieve the purpose of public benefit. In this framework, administrative actions that the administration carries out in line with the rules of public law are encountered in its daily operations. Accordingly, the administration announces its will with the administrative actions it has brought about to have legal consequences. Since the administrative act is a declaration of the will that constitutes a legal result, ←13 | 14→the administration should also be able to express the justification for creating the said administrative act.

The Turkish administrative organization has a structure that is basically divided into central and decentralized management. One of the biggest differences between central and decentralization is that the decision-making bodies of local government organizations (decentralized in terms of location), especially under the heading of decentralization, are elected by the people as a rule.1 This situation enables the people to participate directly in the administration more than the central management principles. The stated result is also seen as a superiority within the framework of comparing decentralization organization with central government organization. In local governments, there are some damages against the stated superiority principle (Akgüner, 2017 : 224). Due to the local conditions and the employment preferences developing accordingly, the presence of people who will take part in areas requiring expertise in local governments is less than central government units. In my opinion, this damage is directly reflected in the establishment of administrative proceedings. Because, the administration’s ability to execute the administrative act together with its justification requires both knowing the technical features of the application subject to the administrative act that constitutes the justification, and preparing it in accordance with the law in accordance with the five elements of the administrative act.

In addition, like every formation in the Turkish administrative organization, local governments undoubtedly carry out administrative action with the aim of realizing the public interest. Moreover, since the administrative act serves a superior purpose such as the public interest and aims to meet the daily needs of the society, it must be in accordance with the law in accordance with the five ele ments it includes. Implied refusal,2 which is our subject of study, is clearly defined in IYUK (2577). In the first paragraph of Article 10 of the IYUK3 titled “Silence of administrative authorities”, it is regulated that anyone who has a valid and acceptable link of interest can apply to administrative offices for the purpose of carrying out an administrative action or administrative action that may be the subject of ←14 | 15→an administrative action. In the continuing second paragraph of the article, if the administration does not respond to the concerned person who made his application in accordance with the method within 60 days, which is the period of filing a general lawsuit in the administrative jurisdiction. It was stated that the request for the application would be deemed to have been rejected.4 Therefore, in order to be able to evaluate the concept of implied refusal, which is an administrative act, it is useful to briefly explain the administrative procedures together with their elements.

1 Elements of Administrative Transactions

Administrative transactions have a structure that affects both those who are directly affected by its terms and results, and everyone who has an interest. Therefore, they can be sued by anyone who has a legitimate, current and personal interest claiming that they are unlawful. The annulment cases filed in the administrative jurisdiction will be to fulfill a purely legal inspection that the administrative judicial bodies in charge should do, since one or more of the authority-form-reason-subject-purpose elements of the administrative act are filed with the claim that they are unlawful. In this context, the administrative judicial body, where concrete dispute is seen, will not be able to “check the appropriateness” in any way; That is, it will not be able to make a decision to replace the administration that carried out the administrative action and take a new decision. In fact, when an action for annulment is filed against an administrative act that has been tacitly rejected, the administrative judicial body must be able to fully control the legal compliance with the justification of the administrative act in question.

In the filing of annulment cases consisting of the evaluation of compliance with the law in the five elements of the administrative act, the condition of merely infringing the interest instead of violating personal rights can be considered as sufficient for the decisions made as a result of the annulment action, not only for the parties, but for everyone concerned. Therefore, it is once again understood that administrative acts, which may concern more than one person at the same time within the framework of a current interest, are justified. In my opinion, bringing an administrative act created by tacit refusal to the realm of law without any justification will also contradict the condition of being in the public interest. The execution of the cancellation decisions given as a result of the annulment case has a characteristic that concerns the public order and must be implemented immediately by the administration. The Administration cannot delay the execution of these decisions and cannot escape from its duty to fulfill the annulment decisions. ←15 | 16→This will be expected from the administration subject to the law. In this context, it can be thought that an administrative act whose justification is unknown or not understood will be far from achieving the desired result in legal and public terms.

1.1 Authority Element of the Administrative Procedure

The authority element of the administrative process may be in terms of person, place, subject or time. Namely, the ability to make a declaration of will on behalf of the administration in administrative law depends on the fact that the relevant authorities are clearly authorized in accordance with the provisions of the legislation. Thus, transactions made by unauthorized persons may be a reason for cancellation. The dimensions of the authority element and the domain of sovereignty may also be considered in terms of location of jurisdiction in terms of location will also constitute a reason for cancellation, since it can be clearly foreseen in which geographical areas a public official can exercise his authority. For example, the powers of the governor of a province will only be valid within the boundaries of that province. Authority element is also examined in terms of subject. As often repeated; the powers of public officials are specified in the legislation. Especially in statutory professions such as civil servant, a person who wants to enter the public office is included in a structure whose boundaries are predetermined. These limits indicate which powers can be used together with personal rights. Therefore, the act of a public official out of the authority granted to him by the legislation will cause a situation of inability to arise in terms of the subject and will result in the cancellation of the transaction made within this framework. Finally, the authority element can also be evaluated over time. Granting the given authorization for a certain period of time will cause the authorization to terminate due to the expiration of the period, and the administrative action that is made as if the authorization is still continuing even though the period has expired may be canceled due to lack of authorization in terms of time.

The appearance of the authority element on administrative transactions manifests itself in three different situations in administrative law: The first is the usurpation of function. The usurpation of function refers to the interchangeability of the three basic powers, whose powers and limits are declared by the 1982 Constitution, and which have a civilized division of labor. These transactions are legally invalid. For example, marriage procedures are completed by the couples who want to get married to apply to the marriage office of the relevant municipality and get their official wedding by the marriage officer with the authority given by the mayor. This process is carried out by the municipalities,5 which ←16 | 17→are a local government organization within the decentralization elements of the Turkish administrative organization. The fact that the marriage is carried out by the marriage offices affiliated to the municipalities will not indicate that the marriage offices working under the municipalities are authorized to terminate the same marriage. Because, according to the existence of the necessary conditions only family courts (where there are no family courts, civil courts of first instance as family courts) will be able to decide the divorce situation regulated between articles 161 and 184 of the Turkish Civil Code. Therefore, if the marriage department can decide to marry or want to carry out divorce, this will lead to a usurpation of function6 and the transaction will be null and void.

The second situation is the violation of authority. A breach of authority consists of the execution of a transaction by a person who is not authorized to perform that transaction. Namely, the person authorized to make a statement of will on behalf of the administration may have taken an administrative action on an issue that does not fall within the scope of his/her duty, or an administrative action may have been taken by a person who is not in charge of the public service. In both cases, the use of a power that is not within the scope of its jurisdiction by its use or the use of authority by establishing an administrative act as if someone who is not in charge of the administrative organization in any way will be an administrative act caused by an authority that does not exist. Here, the administrative action taken as a result of this situation, which is called as a violation of authority, will be deemed invalid.

The third case is authority encroachment. Power encroachment is the bringing of an administrative action in matters that fall under the jurisdiction of another public official who is outside his/her field of duty but also within the administrative organization. For example, one of the important examples of jurisdiction violations in administrative law is that the subordinate acts by substituting the superior subordinate (Derdiman, 2014: 207).

1.2 Form Element of Administrative Procedure

The second element in evaluating whether the administrative acts subject to the annulment case are in compliance with the law is the form. In fact, the manner in which administrative acts will be made is stated in the relevant legislation. In ge neral, when administrative transactions are examined in terms of form element, the existence of several important issues stands out. Administrative procedures should ←17 | 18→be created in writing first of all in terms of the style element. The fact that the transaction is in writing will provide the way for an action for annulment against that transaction; because it is not possible to file an action for annulment against the verbal acts of the administration. According to the case law of the Council of State, verbal decisions can only be sued when they are put in written form (Derdiman, 2014: 217). Moreover, the Council of State, in favor of the plaintiff who was deemed unsuccessful as a result of the oral examination and who applied for the annulment of the relevant decision, the basis of which the examination board formed its observations and thoughts as a result of the oral examination, and if it is a result based on concrete information and documents, what concrete information and He has to prove his existence with documents and put forward his reasons and decided to refuse the appeal request of the defendant administration.7 In this respect, in terms of the form element of the administrative acts, it can be stated as a mandatory element that they are justified as well as being written and signed. The declaration of will that constitutes the content of the administrative process and explains the transaction can be written and verbal; As we have examined in our study, it may also be implicitly revealing that the administration has rejected the present application because it did not respond to the applications made to it within sixty days, which is the general litigation period in the administrative jurisdiction.

1.3 Reason Element of Administrative Procedure

The third element in the examination of the legal compliance of administrative transactions is the reason. The reason element of the administrative act refers to the issue that prompts the administration to carry out the said transaction and causes the administration to perform the specified transaction. Within the framework of the reason element, the administration may show the reason for the transaction it has made, or the same administration may have carried out the administrative act without showing any reason, in accordance with its discretionary power. The administration establishes its operations with the superiority of public power and it will be within the discretion of the administration to establish an administrative act without showing reasons. The administration has to use its discretionary power in accordance with the legislation, justified and equally for everyone in the same cases. Undoubtedly, the superiority of the public interest also requires this. If the administration acts outside these points while exercising its discretionary power, it means that it acts in an arbitrary manner.

←18 | 19→

According to the Council of State, it was stated that the administration should exercise its discretionary power not in absolute and unlimited manner, but in accordance with the principles of public interest and public service, and that the administrative acts created in line with the discretionary power should be based on legally valid reasons, are known principles of the law. It was determined that the plaintiff, who was subjected to a live appointment for attending a meeting of a political party, did not attend the mentioned meeting as a result of the response from the relevant police headquarters regarding the absence of a video recording of the meeting. In fact, even if he attends, it was concluded that it was necessary to investigate the content of the meeting, and in this context, as a result of the lack of reason, the transaction regarding the transfer of the plaintiff’s decision on the plaintiff should be canceled in terms of the cause.8 Again, the Council of State has ruled that there will be no compliance with the law in the proceedings subject to the case, which are created without a full and clear explanation for an administrative decision.9 Therefore, the transactions performed by the administration by showing an invalid and unjustified reason and the transactions that cannot be explained when the reason is requested and therefore arbitrarily performed will be against the law in terms of the cause element. In this context, situations that constitute unlawfulness under the cause element are (Kalabalık, 2016: 164-165);

a) Although the reason is clearly stated in the legislation, the administrative action taken is not the reason in question;

b) Failure of the administration to explain in a precise and justified manner the reason related to the administrative proceedings in cases where the reasons are stated with ambiguous statements;

c) If the reason is not shown at all, it has been stated by the administration in the framework that it cannot be declared that the transaction carried out in this way is suitable for the public interest.

1.4 Subject Element of the Administrative Procedure

The fourth of the five elements of the administrative process is the subject element. After the execution of the administrative procedures, the result that the administration has done as a result of the reason that led the administration to ←19 | 20→create that administrative act and the result it gave birth constitutes the “subject element” of that administrative act. The subject matter, which is dealt with within the scope of the legal consequence resulting from the execution of the administrative act, also creates a change in the legal status of the concerned parties on which it has resulted, based on a certain method and rules. The power of the administrative process that will cause a change on a person will be revealed and enlightened with the subject element (Yayla, 2010: 132). Administrative proceedings should have a causal link between the cause element and the subject element, and the result generated based on the reason for the administrative act should be compatible. This conformity is to constitute the subject element of the transaction made based on the cause in legal terms by adhering to the legislation. For example, the reason for giving disciplinary punishment to the officer after the administration initiated a disciplinary investigation is that the officer violates the prohibitions specified in the legislation. It is clear which sanctions will be applied against the prohibitions that have been broken, or more precisely, which disciplinary penalty will be given against the disciplinary offense committed as a result of a disciplinary rule that has been broken. Moreover, it was also stated whether the administration could reduce the penalty by using its discretionary power. As a result, the sanctions specified separately for each disciplinary penalty in the legislation should be imposed and the disciplinary penalty corresponding to the action should be imposed. Otherwise, the causal link that should exist between the cause and the subject will be broken and the administrative act will have to be canceled when it is determined that it is illegal in terms of the subject element (Yaman, 2018: 25).

1.5 Purpose Element of the Administrative Procedure

The last element of the administrative process is the goal element. The administration always acts in the public interest by observing the general interests of the society. Therefore, it is not possible for all transactions and actions of the administration to serve any purpose other than the public interest. The purpose element includes a structure that prevents the administration from acting arbitrarily, making decisions for the benefit of third parties, for political reasons or for personal benefits. Arguing that administrative proceedings are not in the public interest also brings the necessity of proving the assumption in question and obliges to discuss the purpose of the administrative act in order to prove possible illegality (Korkut, 2006: 78).

The concept of public interest has an ambiguous meaning. Because, as it may vary from period to period, it may consist of decisions taken in accordance with local and universal conditions by the legislative body that makes laws in line ←20 | 21→with the needs of the society and the executive body that undertakes the government of the country. Therefore, public interest is an open-ended concept without exception and it is shaped within the framework of the demand and necessity that prevail in its time period. The concept of public benefit is the benefit that the government seeks for the State in the balance of power and people, or is it the social benefit it seeks for the people? It would be correct to interpret the public interest in a way that includes both elements and thus not take the definition in a narrow framework. The public interest, which is the concept sought in return for the purpose element from the five elements of the administrative process, is also specified as one of the basic elements of the rule of law by the Constitutional Court (Saraç, 2002: 20).

In fact, in the explanation of the concept of public benefit, it is stated that there is a determination according to the concrete conditions in each case rather than a single definition, and therefore, the concept of public benefit has been given flexibility beyond a rigid and narrow framework (Akıllıoğlu, 2011: 21). It should be noted that even the discretionary power of the administration is limited to the public interest, and this boundary of the administration binds itself in the objective element of the administrative act. Thus, although the administration does not have discretion over the purpose element of the administrative act, there is an absolute limit to the public interest. If the administrative actions taken in order to ensure the public interest are clearly intended to violate individual rights rather than reach the social benefit in the background, the administration will go beyond the boundaries drawn to it, and the relevant transactions may be canceled by the administrative judicial bodies since they do not have the purpose of public benefit. Because, the public interest, which is also a reason for limitation for various rights and freedoms, constitutes the general purpose of administrative acts (and, it should be added, actions). For this reason, its uncertain and abstract quality is a situation that should always be considered (Tombaloğlu, 2014: 355).

Articles (43), (44), (45), (46) and (47) of the 1982 Constitution are regulated under the title of public interest. The titles of these articles are “coastal exploitation”, “land ownership”, “agriculture, animal husbandry and protection of those working in these production branches”, “expropriation”, “nationalization” and “privatization”, respectively. The fact that a separate regulation has been made under the title of public benefit in the Constitution also points to the necessity of determining the method and management suitable for the public benefit, which is the concept that should be considered primarily in the implementation of the specified articles. Therefore, it can be understood that the limit of the kind of regulation desired to be made regarding the articles mentioned by the ←21 | 22→administration will also be in the public interest. Moreover, it is stated in Article 1 of the Additional Protocol No. 110 of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms approved by law no (6366) that, man can only be deprived of his possessions for the public benefit.11

In the Constitutional Court, in its decision published in the Official Gazette dated 9.5.2014 and numbered 28995, the restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms, regardless of the purpose pursued in democratic constitutional states, cannot be more than the intended purpose with the restriction, and the expropriation taken in accordance with the concept of public benefit the second sentence of paragraph (3) of the 8th article of the “Tourism Encouragement Law” numbered 2634, article 13 titled restriction of fundamental rights and freedoms, article 35 titled property right on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, pursuant to Article 36 titled freedom to seek rights and Article 125 regulating the possibility of a judicial remedy against all kinds of acts and actions of the administration.12 Thus, it has been stipulated that decisions taken in line with the public interest should be subject to legal control at the point of existence of public interest and should be questionable.

The Council of State examined and concluded the existence of the public interest in many of its decisions. For example, it is stated that, considering that the site decisions were made in order to protect the natural environment in the public interest, the subject parcel should be evaluated together with its surroundings as a part of the whole, not alone, in resolving concrete disputes.13 In a decision made by the Council of State regarding the promotion of public officials working in the administrative organization, since the service carried out by religious officials is not related to the main service areas of the administration, the personnel in the clergy positions are promoted and appointed as the provincial director, provincial deputy director and establishment manager. Personnel of the General Directorate of Services and Child Protection Agency has decided that the provisions of the “Regulation on Promotion and Change of Title” are not in compliance with the law in terms of public interest and service requirements.14 Moreover, although the administration is given a ←22 | 23→discretionary power regarding the appointment of public officials, this power can only be used in a limited way to the public interest and service requirements, and whether the appointments are made within the scope of public interest and service requirements will be subject to judicial review.15 Again, in another decision, the Council of State stated that the plaintiff’s waiver from the case was from his individual interests, but in the event that the unlawfulness of the administrative act was determined, the plaintiff’s waiver was not possible after the decision was made by the local court after the decision was made by the local court.16 In addition, the Council of State sometimes evaluates the existence of the public interest within the framework of whether it is dominant, and in cases where the public interest is not dominant, It has decided that the rightful expectations of individuals should not be impaired, hoping that they can reach a result for their interests, whether relying on a commitment of the administration or a practice that has been going on for a long time.17

In determining the public interest, more precisely, in determining which activity carries public benefit, decentralization elements as well as the legislature are authorized, and they have the right to turn the activity of public interest into a public service (Gözler, 2009: 227). In my opinion, the fact that the concept of public benefit has a meaning that differs from period to period makes it indispensable to clearly understand the reasons for administrative proceedings. Knowing the current justification will also reveal how effective the relevant administrative action is in achieving the public interest. Therefore, the lack of clarity of the reasons for the administrative acts created by tacit refusal should be regarded as a deficiency in the interpretation of the purpose element of the administrative act.

2 The Problem of Justification of Administrative Transactions Created by Implied Refusal by Local Governments

The implied refusal, which is one of the administrative actions that occur with the silence of the administration, can undoubtedly be fulfilled by everybody in the Turkish administrative organization. However, the purpose of evaluating such a ←23 | 24→concept with such a wide area of use within the framework of local governments is different. The implied refusal regulated in the IYUK has a consequence that should be criticized as it lacks justification as an administrative act. In addition, besides not knowing the justification of an administrative act created by silence leads to failure in calculating the time to file a lawsuit.18 It may cause a negativity, namely loss of rights. It should be noted that; the view of the Council of State against those who will apply against the tacit refusal to miss the judicial remedy by spending the 60-day lawsuit period is negative. The Council of State takes into account the derogative nature of the periods accepted in the administrative judiciary against the miscalculation of the time for filing a lawsuit as a result of tacit refusal.19 However, this point of view is achieved by majority vote and not by consensus in general. In fact, when looking at the letters of opposing votes of some sample decisions stated in the footnote it is stated that the abolition of the right to file a lawsuit as a result of the error that people experience during the filing period is contrary to the Constitution. Article (11) titled binding and superiority of the Constitution, Article (36) titled freedom to seek rights, Article (40) titled protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, petition, the right to obtain information and to apply to the ombudsman (74) ‘third article, the judicial remedy title (125)’

Therefore, when the mentioned constitutional articles and the law numbered (2577) are interpreted together, the implied refusal should be criticized both because of the unknown justification and the negativities it creates in the calculation of the duration of litigation for individuals. Especially, from the point of view of local governments, the unclear reason for the implied refusal can be evaluated by the fact that local governments are open to local pressure and effects. This situation is a serious drawback for the public service. Moreover, with the applicant’s inability to learn the justification of the administrative act in the ←24 | 25→form of implied refusal without resorting to administrative jurisdiction to annul the transaction, Failures in the calculation of the time of filing a lawsuit upon the transaction denied implicitly will cause a clear violation of the freedom to seek rights and the principles of equity, which we have tried to explain above. Moreover, the failure of the administration to respond within the 60-day period is considered as a tacit refusal, while the response given by the administration after 60 days is regulated and accepted in the form of a proper and valid administrative procedure is open to criticism. This situation can mostly hinder public service responsibility. Therefore, the public official is left independent from the obligation to fulfill his duty within a certain period of time. It can be predicted that the stated result will adversely affect the public merit element. Because the concept of merit is an important principle sought not only in appointment but also in the continuation of the task (Akgüner, 2017: 37).

It can be stated that the specified possible defects will be in clear contradiction with the European Law of Good Administrative Behavior and hence the principle of good administration.


The silence of the administration cannot be interpreted positively in terms of negative administration for individuals. Moreover, to think otherwise means to accept or ignore the disruption of the responsibilities of the persons in charge of the Turkish administrative organization within the framework of the constitution and laws. Moreover, this situation will cause much bigger problems on the axis of local governments. In local governments, the fact that it is more difficult to provide expert personnel in their field compared to the central administration will turn the tacit rejection into a harmful power for the public. The requirement to state the justification for the administrative act is delayed by the presence of implied refusal. On the other hand, in the annulment action filed against the implied rejection, the possibility of the lack of expert officials in local governments will be encountered within the framework of explaining the reason. In this context, the regulation in IYUK regarding the concept of implied rejection is inadequate in my opinion and its effectiveness has become questionable today. The administrative transactions that occur in the method that the administration disguises through silence do not carry the element of justification that they should have. It should be accepted that the lack of justification for the administrative procedures resulting from the silence of the administration also constitutes an obstacle to the realization of the principle of good administration. Moreover, in a public administration that functions faster and more efficiently with the ←25 | 26→developing technical possibilities, it is not correct to expect results to be obtained with the silence of the administration, or rather to interpret this in an administrative center. Moreover, in many European Union member countries, silence of the administration is interpreted in favor of the individual (Bonomo, 2019: 966).

In this context, with an amendment to the IYUK, the second paragraph of article (10) regulating the implied rejection should be changed in this format: “If no response is given within sixty days, the request is considered rejected. Those concerned may request in writing the justification of the tacit rejection made to the administration as of the end of sixty days. The administration is obliged to explain the grounds for the rejection of the application tacitly rejected within 10 days. From the day following the notification of the justification to the concerned parties, within the period of filing a lawsuit, they can file a lawsuit to the Council of State, administrative and tax courts depending on the subject “. With this amendment, an application in favor of the individual will be accepted by learning the justification of the transaction created with implied refusal; Moreover, it will be possible to prevent public officials from having a relief in public service whose merit is questioned by relying on the concept of silence of the administration. This will enable more effective and lawful decisions to be taken in public services, especially in local governments that sometimes face the risk of being under the influence of local pressures.


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Kalabalık, H. (2016). Administrative Jurisdiction Law. Konya: Sayram Publishing.

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1. The reason why the expression is used here as a rule is that the Governor, who is at the head of the provincial special administration under the heading of decentralization, is directly appointed by the central administration.

2. Another situation that should be criticized on the subject is the existence of foreign words in Turkish. Implied Refusal is named as “Zımni Red” in Turkish and this phrase (Zımni Red) is an Arabic word and, in my opinion, the derivation of Abstract Turkish words and sentences by making a change in the way of using implicit rejection instead of the concept of implied refusal in law and practice is in a structure that needs to be examined carefully. For criticism, see also Burtan, 2019: 1.

3. Official Gazette No. 17580 and dated 20.1.1982

4. see at https://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.2577.pdf, (Accessed date: 3.8.2020)

5. In societies that accept a secular and contemporary life standard, the official marriage of couples who want to get married by religious officials will result in the dominance of religious rules over social life and in the state administration.

6. Extortion of function (duty), State’s action on a matter that falls within the function of the legislative or judicial body (severe and obvious encroachment of power), Council of State 7.D, E. 2009/5247, K. 2011/1460, Council of State İDDGK, E. 2010/2072, K. 2010/1467, Date: 4.11.2010, Retrieved from: Hukuk.istanbul.edu.tr, (Date of Access: 10.6.2020)

7. Council of State 2. D, E. 2014/8821, K. 2015/1537, Date: 19.2.2015, Retrieved from: www.kazanci.com.tr, (Access Date: 10.6.2020)

8. Council of State 5. D, E. 1997/2136, K. 1997/2986, Date: 11.12.1997, Retrieved from: www.kazanci.com.tr, (Access Date 12.6.2020)

9. Council of State 3. D, E. 2014/5065, K. 2015/6813, Date: 13.10.2015, Retrieved from: www.kazanci.com.tr, (Access Date: 12.6.2020)

10. Official Gazette. 8662, dated 19.3.1954.

11. Retrieved from; http://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_TUR.pdf, (Access Date: 15.6.2020)

12. Constitutional Court, E. 2013/108, K. 2014/15, Dated: 29.1.2014, accessed at www.kazanci.com.tr, (Access Date: 16.6.2020)

13. Council of State 14. D, E. 2011/5290, K. 2011/266, Dated: 22.6.2011, Accessed at: www.danistay.gov.tr, (Date of access: 17.6.2020)

14. Council of State 5. D, E. 2010/4944, Dated: 25.11.2010, Accessed at: www.kazanci.com.tr, (Access Date: 17.6.2020)

15. Council of State 5. D, E. 2008/6724, K. 2010/3642, Dated; 26.5.2010, Accessed at; www.kazanci.com.tr, (Access Date: 17.6.2020)

16. Council of State 6. D, E. 1994/484, K. 1994/1873, Dated; 9.5.1994, Accessed at; www.danistay.com.tr, (Access Date: 17.6.2020)

17. Council of State 5. D, E. 2003/3647, K. 2006/1140, Dated; 14.3.2006, Accessed at; www.danistay.com.tr, (Access Date: 17.6.2020)

18. As it is known, there are also regulations that the administration accepts through silence, therefore silence means acceptance. Thus, the concept of tacit acceptance can be considered to be free from criticism. Because, in the presence of an administrative act formed by tacit acceptance, there is now an application made to the administration and its approval. Here, the justification of the administrative act can be understood from the tacitly accepted application petition. However, in the case of implied refusal, the reason for rejection by the administration will not be known.

19. Council of State 15. D, E. 2016/718, K. 2016/1440, Dated: 7.3.2016, Accessed at: www.danistay.gov.tr; Council of State 15. D. E. 2016/536, K. 2016/1906, Dated: 21.3.2016, Accessed at: www.danistay.gov.tr; Council of State 15. D. E. 2015/7603, K. 2016/1907, Dated: 21.3.2016, Accessed at: www.danistay.gov.tr, (Date of access: 25.6.2020)

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Dr. Hasan Acar and Yunus Karaağaç

1.2 Impact on Urban Governance of Local Politics and Terror Relationship: The Case of Turkey

Abstract: In Ancient Greek, the concept of democracy, which means “government of the people”, is the basic element of defining the modern world, where fundamental rights and freedoms are acquired innately, and the principle of justice and the equal citizen is spread to the general. In a democratic regime, public participation in management takes place based on general and local government. While issues such as basic welfare, justice, and security are under the responsibility of the general government, in provinces, districts, towns, and villages; local services such as infrastructure, transportation, food, clean water, cleaning, and burials are performed. The fact that the municipalities, which are the center of local politics and functioning, have the authority and responsibility as a legal person, is the result of a democratic system, but it can also be seen as units that should be seized and engaged for armed attacks and terrorist organizations that cannot reach their targets.

Having carried out its first armed action in 1984, PKK (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan) has been carrying out terrorist acts in line with the independent Kurdistan target for nearly 40 years and can renew its tactics and strategies periodically in achieving its goal. The PKK carried out rural-based terrorist activities until the political parties with which it had an organic bond strengthened within the framework of the local government and during this period caused the death of 40000 people. Political parties (Democratic Regions Party-DRP, Peoples’ Democratic Party-PDP), who expressed their ties with the PKK at every opportunity, changed the concept of the PKK and changed to urban terrorism as a result of the fact that the PKK changed the concept and converted to city terrorism.

The delivery of weapons and ammunition to the organization with municipal vehicles, the municipalities providing financing to the organization from their allowances, giving priority to the companies that have a relationship with the PKK in municipal tenders and being the reference of the PKK with recruitments, after the organization’s self-management call, the municipalities of DRP (Şırnak, Silopi, Cizre, Nusaybin and Yüksekova’s 16 municipalities), such as the declaration of autonomy and the city war called “trench war”, reveal the relationship between local government and terrorism.

This chapter aims to show that democratic developments can be manipulated by terrorist organizations and draw attention to the fact that local governments can act under the aim of terrorist organizations under a so-called democratic view.

Keywords: Local politics, Democracy, Municipal administration, Terrorism, Urban Guerrillas.

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Local governments representing the social presence in a particular region and providing political, economic, cultural, social, and service functions in the region within its jurisdiction are a product of decentralized structure and the inability of the central authority to solve all the problems of the country. In this system, while the unitary structure of the country is preserved, local governments come into play in line with the understanding of decentralization.

Municipalities, which are a local government unit and have an autonomous legal personality in the region they represent, are the main element of the decentralization regime. Mayors can be elected independently by the public, or they can also be elected as candidates of the country’s political parties in general. The mayors elected as independent candidates or candidates for political parties and the municipalities under their administration, in the region they represent; infrastructure, development, transportation, water distribution, fire and police duties, and training. While the reason for the existence and jurisdiction of the municipalities are in theory, some problems may arise in the practical part of the work. One of these problems is that municipalities act under the guidance of a certain structure or terrorist organization, apart from the understanding of service, and use their political power and autonomy by the instructions of the terrorist organization.

Entering the terrorist organization led by the municipality of terrorizing and act in line with the target of terrorist organizations, it draws attention to a pheno menon that can be seen in Turkey. The determined actions of the political parties and municipalities that have organic or direct links with the terrorist organization PKK reveal cooperation between local governments and the phenomenon of terrorism.

The actions of the parties (DRP and PRP) and municipalities that have close relations with the PKK; it can be expressed as recruiting a terrorist organization, providing logistical support to the organization with municipal vehicles, realizing the propaganda of the organization, financing the terrorist organization and seeking membership or sympathy in recruitment.

This study was prepared to reveal a negative example of terrorist relations with local governments and to demonstrate that local governments can be manipulated by terrorist organizations, and the study focused on the PKK terrorist organization and its municipalities.

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1 Conceptually Local Politics and Terrorism

Politics, etymologically derived from the word ‘police’, has been used to make decisions about the management of the city in the Ancient Greek and the issues that are public, that is, for everyone (Yayla, 2019: 25). The purpose of politics is not to use individuals and the masses by using power or to rule over scarce resources. The purpose of politics is society; to ensure its well-being, happiness, justice and freedom (Akdoğan, 2008: 10).

According to David Easton, politics is the distribution of values through authorities, and according to Andrew Heywood, it is the process of establishing, protecting or changing the general rules that enable people to live together (Taşkın, 2017: 23). The derivation of the concept of politics from a city-centered approach draws attention to the local dimension of politics. The functioning, called local politics, fills in areas where a central authority cannot be included in every subject and creates regional and local politics.

Although local politics is a local power struggle, which is carried out by the people and institutions that carry out political activities based on city and district, by considering the issues of the local people, it includes the use of the resources and opportunities of the region for the benefit of the local people (Akdoğan, 2008: 10). Local politics is used as a concept that refers to the municipal administration in a narrow sense, but in its broad sense it covers the deputies of the region in question, the local administration structure, public bureaucracy, unions and pressure groups (Alkan and Çiftçioğlu, 2007: 2).

Local politics is the result of an understanding of decentralization. The most important features of local politics, which have a decentralized structure; autonomy is the only authority in its functioning (Ertan, 2018: 27) and they are the management units closest to the citizen (Çelik et al, 2008: 90). In short, the reason and purpose of local politics are to ensure that public services reach the citizens and to represent the will of the people (Ndreu, 2016: 5).

In this study, where the relationship between local politics and terrorism is centered, the conceptual content of the phenomenon of terrorism needs to be handled holistically.

Terrorism, derived from the Latin word ‘terrere’, means “unexpected fear and destruction” (Semercioğlu, 2016: 100), defined as an “attempt to impose political and ideological demands of an organized group through violence or threat of violence” (Kuçuradi, 2002: 343).

Although the history of terrorism is in line with the history of humanity, the first acts of terrorism are often identified with the Jewish Sicarias operating ←31 | 32→in Palestine before Christ (Karaağaç, 2019: 231), and the Order of Assassins of Hassan-i Sabbah’s are shown as the first organized terrorist movement. However, the word “terrorism” entered into the literature is based on its use to describe the period of violence after the French Revolution (Tilly, 2004: 8). Terrorism refers to the threat of violence used to fulfill political and ideological demands, and terrorism indicates that terrorist acts are carried out in a continuous, systematic and organized manner. Therefore, while terrorism draws attention to the action, terrorism draws attention to strategy.

‘Terrorism is the systematic implementation or threat of murder or extermination to intimidate individuals, groups, society or governments to ensure that certain political demands are met (Wilkinson, 1977: 49). Terrorism is a strategy of violence that is planned, calculated, and implemented systematically to establish sovereignty or create power in the region where there is a lack of authority (Hoffman, 2006: 23).

The most sensitive statement about terrorism is that a terrorist for one state can be a freedom fighter for another state (Laqueur, 2007: 22). The lack of a common definition of terrorism and the use of terrorism as a tool to weaken another state creates the terrorist-freedom fighter duality. The preference of terrorism as a tool by the states is the main challenge of combating terrorism. Because terrorist organizations continue their existence if they have external support. In this study, samples of the selected cases as Turkey, the PKK terrorist organization, requires a brief historical and ideological to be addressed.

2 Terrorism and the PKK’s Activities in Turkey

The Republic of Turkey since its establishment has been faced with divisive and destructive acts of terrorism, especially ethnic and religious motifs. But it has been the longest and most destructive separatist activities of the terrorist organization PKK terror wave that Turkey experienced. It is known that more than forty thousand people lost their lives in PKK attacks (Portzer, 2020: 93). PKK is considered among the top 25 terrorist organizations in the world in terms of terrorist attacks and the number of people killed as a result of these attacks (Mandala, 2017: 364).

The PKK was established on 26–27 November 1978 in the village of Fis (vi siting) in the Lice district of Diyarbakır, under the leadership of Abdullah Öcalan (Özcan, 1999: 42). On August 15, 1984, it simultaneously carried out the first armed terrorist acts in Eruh and Şemdinli districts (Ersever, 1994: 101–102).

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PKK is a terrorist organization established under the conditions of the Cold War, adopting Marxist-Leninist ideology, applying Mao’s rural guerrilla method in terrorist acts and shaped around Öcalan’s one-man authoritarianism (Demir, 2008: 68). The target of the PKK; Turkey, Iraq, the Kurdish presence in Iran, and Syria are brought together to establish an independent Kurdistan. PKK has received assistance from foreign countries periodically since its establishment to achieve this goal. For example; Greece, Iran, Iraq and Syria PKK; supported the military, education, logistics and shelter (Rubin and Rubin, 2008: 74). Iran, Iraq and Syria of supporting the PKK, despite the organization’s goals are based on what they see as Turkey’s eroding the aim of regional competitors.

PKK terrorist actions since the 1980s has been more frequent in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern regions, increased power capacity up to 1992 (Polis Akademisi Başkanlığı, 2017: 13). The Turkish Armed Forces (Alan, 2020: 200), which made its weight dominant with the strategy of field domination since that date, succeeded in breaking the power and resistance of the PKK terrorist organization and ensured the expulsion of Abdullah Öcalan, who resided in Syria since 1979. Abdullah Ocalan, with a special intelligence operation in Kenya on 15 February 1999 was arrested and brought to Turkey (Marcus, 2009: 359–372).

The PKK, which entered the period of confusion following the capture of Öcalan, declared a ceasefire for 5 years without making any claims (Cronin, 2009: 20–21). In May 2002, the European Union included the PKK on the list of terrorist organizations. Since the PKK predicted this decision in advance, it was dissolved in April under the name Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (Kurdish: KADEK-Kongreya Azadî û Demokrasiya Kurdistanê), and Öcalan was brought back to it (Mango, 2005: 68). KADEK structuring was terminated on November 11, 2003, and The People’s Congress (KONGRAGEL) was established. On April 2, 2004, the European Union declared that its ban decision for the PKK also applies to KADEK and KONGRA-GEL (Mango, 2005: 72). PKK, trying to ensure its legitimacy against the international public with the change of name, has not been able to get the return it wants from the strategy it has pursued and declared the establishment of Kurdistan Communities Union (Kurdish: KCK-Koma Civakên Kurdistan) as a new upper structure (Sezer, 2012: 47).

In 2013, a political solution environment was tried to be created using state policy that military power should be negotiated for peace by producing rhetoric about the inadequacy of the fight against terrorism. This new initiative, called “Solution Process”, was consulted with Abdullah Öcalan (Köse, 2017: 17). For the Solution Process to proceed, 3 main objectives have been determined:

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1. Gradual withdrawal from the territory of Turkey of PKK elements,

2. The fulfillment of the commitment by the democratic government of Turkey

3. To adapt the PKK elements to civil and political life after disarmament (DPI, 2013: 11).

However, the solution process ended as a failed process because both parties could not advance to the main goals (Çiçek and Coşkun, 2016: 19), and the main reason for this process to fail was the elections of June 7, 2015.

3 Local Politics – Terror Relationship

In the elections of 7 June 2015, PDP’s 79% vote in Sur, where the Kurdish po pulation predominates, 91% in Cizre, 89% in Silopi, 92% in Nusaybin gave birth to the idea that the public would support them in the PKK (Ural, 2018: 19), and subsequently the PKK tried to achieve its self-management goal by adopting the city guerrilla method in its new city-centered terrorist strategy. The PKK’s understanding of city terrorism, known as the Trench Wars, is an extremely important example in terms of showing that local government and terrorist phenomenon can be watched in an intricate relationship.

The PKK called for self-management to municipalities with DRP (Democratic Regions Party) with organic ties among them, and the terrorist organization’s activities have deepened in cities other than the countryside (Duran, 2018). Şırnak Municipality on August 10, 2015 and KCK on August 12, in 4 provinces and 15 districts (Silopi, Cizre, Nusaybin, Yüksekova, Varto, Bulanık, Edremit, Ipekyolu, Sur, Silvan, Lice, Dogubayazıt, Hizan, Gulsuyu, Gazi) declared that declared self-government (Duran, 2019).

By establishing hegemony over some local political units chosen by de mocratic methods to meet the local needs of the society, the PKK has created an illegal system by transferring the municipal resources to it (Güler and Yılmaz, 2019: 138).

PKK has used the resources of DRP municipalities extensively during and after the trench wars with activities such as logistic support, recruiting the organization and propaganda. Concrete findings have been obtained that municipalities proclaiming self-government are recruited directly with the PKK and that is the primary reference in job applications (Duran, 2018).

With the call for self-government, the PKK worked in coordination with local political units and carried terrorist acts to city centers, forcing the citizens of the region to migrate, turning their residences into positions. Besides, they dug ditches on the streets and streets with municipal vehicles and set up barricades and equipped the district centers with handmade explosives and ←34 | 35→bombs. Therefore, by disrupting the public’s access to basic services (Güler and Yılmaz, 2019: 134), it terrorized the local government approach.

Fig. 1.2.1: Terrorist Organization Propaganda in Municipal Vehicles (Ministry of the Interior, 2017: 24)

According to the report prepared by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and it can be seen in Figure 1.2.1., the vehicles of the municipality were used in bombing attacks in the Trench Wars strategy carried out by the local administrations, and barricades were dug in the streets between the municipal construction machines and trenches. Tenders made by municipalities were given to PKK members or sympathizers, and the organization was cut from the salaries of municipal employees. The citizens in the region opposed to the PKK were tried to punish the innocent people by not providing municipal services (Ministry of the Interior, 2017: 9).

The taxes collected directly by the local governments and the financial budget sent by the central government were largely used for the terrorist organization. These allowances were used in the employment of PKK-related personnel and financing terrorism, and individuals seeking membership from a terrorist organization were hired in the municipality and subcontractors working with the municipality (Ministry of the Interior, 2017: 43).

As can be seen from the financing images in Fig. 1.2.2, the local political units provided financially stamped and sealed financial aid from the local budget to People’s Defence Forces (Kurdish: HPG-Hezen Parastina Gel), the ←35 | 36→military flank of the PKK. The receipt of the PKK was legitimized under the Kars-Kağızman structuring.

Fig. 1.2.2: Tribute that PKK Collected by Local Political Units (Alptekin and İlhan, 2018: 29)

The ambulance and funeral vehicles of the municipality were used to kidnap and hide terrorists, and treatment opportunities were provided for injured terrorists with ambulances (Ministry of the Interior, 2017: 45). The fact that the vehicle, which opened fire in the police in Van in June 2016, and which the terrorists were in, belongs to the Municipality of Van. Also it was revealed that ammunition was carried to the organization by municipal vehicles in many provinces, especially in Hakkâri, Mardin and Iğdır (Duran, 2018).

Local politics units affiliated with the PKK attend commemoration activities for PKK militants and teach PKK anthems to the masses, positive discrimination against terrorist relatives in recruitment, and acts of terrorist names on the streets (Alptekin, 2019) show the extent of local governments’ terrorist relationship and potential targets within the scope of autonomy as it can be seen in Figure 1.2.3.

As a result, it was revealed that as of 2014, mayors elected from the Democratic Regions Party, which is the extension of PDP in the Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia regions, provided great support to the PKK in terms of finance and logistics, and also prevented the operations carried out by the security forces against the PKK (Miş, 2019).

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Fig. 1.2.3: Terrorist Organization Propaganda in Municipal Funeral Vehicles (Ministry of the Interior, 2017: 45)

4 The Effect of Local Politics-Terrorism Relations on Local Government and Regional Development

In Turkey, it is reserved for the general municipal budget of between 10% and 20% of staff costs. However, when the municipalities that announced the self-government announcement were examined, it was seen that the ratio of personnel expenses to the budget reached 75%, therefore it was revealed that the local service budget was spent as salaries for PKK members (Erdoğan, 2019: 253). Social aids to be transferred to the people in need through local politics were made to the members of the organization and their relatives. The people of the region; a road, drinking water, sewage, etc. It has been determined that the appropriations allocated to meet their needs are used for the financing of the terrorist organization (Ministry of Interior, 2019: 6). Therefore, appropriations and tools reserved for local politics were not used for the benefit of the people and local service was not carried out.

The emergence of the terrorist organization being supported by municipalities in terms of financing, human resources and equipment (Güler and Yılmaz, 2018: 1803) has prompted the central authority to take several public order measures against the manipulated local politics.

With the allegation of supporting terrorism, 94 local political administrators were removed from their posts and a ‘trustee’ was appointed from their central ←37 | 38→administration. It is stated that the municipalities that have been found to cooperate with terrorism directly or indirectly support terrorist activities in their regions by using their financial powers and service tools (Keleş and Özgül, 2017: 308).

Fig. 1.2.4: PKK Barricades Created by Municipal Facilities (Ministry of the Interior, 2017: 24)

As a result of the trustees’ appointments, the following actions carried out by the terrorist organization PKK over the municipalities with DRP were blocked:

Transfer of salaries, cash benefits and tender commissions to the terrorist organization within the scope of mandatory donations from employees,

Publication activities that make organization propaganda through youth and cultural centers, and publications of articles, posters and materials supporting the terrorist organization,

Supporting the local political units’ tools, zoning, excavation, road closure arrangements and residential uprisings,

The attempts to establish authority, such as the blessing of PKK militants who lost their lives in terrorist activities with condolence activities and mo numental tombs, and the effort to establish judicial institutions similar to state institutions (Alptekin and İlhan, 2018: 55).

As a result of the appointment of trustees, the understanding of local politics, which moved away from its existential purpose and target, and which was ←38 | 39→under the direction of the terrorist organization, was pulled to its legal ground and the resources of the local region were converted back into service. Thus, the possibilities and opportunities of local politics started to be transferred to the public within the framework of the local government approach. Prepared for the war environment by the local politics and terrorist organization, and in this context, ditches opened in the streets with municipal vehicles, the images belonging to the local people in Cizre reflect the damage caused by local po litics and terrorist cooperation and show how the region can develop after the appointment of the trustee as it can be seen in Figure 1.2.5.

Fig. 1.2.5: District of Cizre Before and After the Trustee (En Son Haber, 2018)


The basis of the understanding of local politics, which is a result of democracy, is based on the fulfillment of services such as infrastructure, zoning, transportation, water distribution, fire brigade, police duties and education. In some cases, the legal personality, budget and autonomy of local politics create a center of attraction to illegal formations and constitute the causes of terrorist organizations’ targets to take over the local government. 1984, the first act of terrorism by acting on Turkey’s division of the PKK’s 2015 elections after his call on democratic autonomy and self-government to declare the DRP’s city council and mayor, was a poor example of local political relations with terrorist organizations.

With the vehicles and construction machines belonging to local political units, ditches were opened on the streets and barricades were established, and ←39 | 40→the PKK’s strategy for urban terrorism was supported by the local government. Not only about terrorist acts but also transferring the taxes and budgets of the local government to the organization as financing, using the funeral and ambulance service tools to the supporters of the organization, determining the recruitment process in the municipalities, providing social assistance to the relatives of the organization, providing written resources in the cultural houses including the propaganda of the organization; local politics have also been in close contact with the terrorist organization in applications such as giving the names of PKK terrorists to the streets, not meeting the basic needs of citizens in the anti-PKK region.

As a result, the central authority dismissed local politicians who had a relationship with the terrorist organization and appointed local supervisors to local politics to bring local politics still in line with its existential purpose and disrupted services were trying to be eliminated through new appointments.


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Miş, N. (2019). Kayyumdan Önce Bazı Belediyeler PKK’ya Hizmet Eden Birimler Haline Gelmişti [Before the Trustee, Some Municipalities Became Units Serving the PKK], SETA, 13.03.2019, https://www.setav.org/kayyumdan-once-bazi-belediyeler-pkkya-hizmet-eden-birimler-haline-gelmisti/ (Access 24.05.2020).

Ndreu, A. (2016). The Definition and Importance of Local Governance, Social and Natural Sciences Journal, 10(1): 5–8.

Özcan, N. A. (1999). PKK (Kürdistan İşçi Partisi) Tarihi, İdeolojisi ve Yöntemi [PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) History, Ideology and Method]. Ankara: ASAM.

Portzer, J. M. M. (2020). The People’s Protection Units’ Branding Problem: Syrian Kurds and Potential Destabilization in Northeastern Syria. Military Review, May-June, 100(3): 92–103.

Republic of Turkey Ministry of Internal Affairs (2017). Appointments to Municipalities Due to Terror. Republic of Turkey Ministry of Interior, Mart 2017, https://www.icisleri.gov.tr/kurumlar/icisleri.gov.tr/IcSite/diab/duyurular/Belediyeler.pdf (Access 23.05.2020).

Republic of Turkey Ministry of Internal Affairs (2019). Belediyelerdeki Kayyum Sistemi ve Mevcut Durum Raporu [Trusteeship System in Municipalities and Current Situation Report], https://www.icisleri.gov.tr/kurumlar/icisleri.gov.tr/IcSite/illeridaresi/Yayinlar/KayyumRaporu/kayyum_nihai_rapor.pdf (Access 25.05.2020).

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Republic of Turkey Police Academy Directorate (2017). Terör Çalıştayı Raporu [Terror Workshop Report]. Ankara: International Terrorism and Security Research Center.

Rubin, B. and Rubin, J. C. (2008). Chronologies of Modern Terrorism. New York: M. E. Sharpe.

Semercioğlu, H. (2016). Uluslararası Terörizmde Küresel İşbirliği: Bir Ütopya [Global Cooperation on International Terrorism: A Utopia]. Hacettepe University Journal of Economics and Administrative Sciences, 34(2): 97–114.

Sezer, T. (2012). The Discourse of the PKK/KCK: From the Manifest Through KCK Agreement, International Journal of Security and Terrorism, 3(1): 41–65.

Taşkın, Y. (2017). Siyaset Nedir? [What is Politics?]. Y. Taşkın (Ed.) Siyaset: Kavramlar, Kurumlar, Süreçler [Politics: Concepts, Institutions, Processes] in, 22–48, İstanbul: İletişim Publishers.

Tilly, C. (2004). Terror, Terrorism, Terrorists. Sociological Theory, 22(1): 5–13.

Ural, İ. (2018). PKK’nın Şehir Savaşı ve PYD/YPG Tarihi [The PKK’s City War and the PYD/YPG History]. İstanbul: İleri Publishers.

Wilkinson, P. (1977). Terrorism and the Liberal State, London: The Macmillan Press.

Yayla, A. (2019). Siyaset Bilimi [Political Science]. Ankara: Adres Publishers.

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Prof. Dr. Filiz Balta Peltekoğlu and Dr. Zuhal Akbayır

1.3 The Perception of Istanbul’s Chromatic Identity through Urban Furniture: A Study on College of Communication Students

Abstract: Color, as a component of urban identity, illustrates the cultural ties of a city and highlights its distinctive qualities, shaping the image. The colors of city furniture are, therefore, a significant component in terms of the identity of a city. The research, in which we processed the survey results of the college of communication students, Marmara Unversity, has revealed that color is a component of the urban identity; there is a correlation between urban furniture and this urban identity; although participants have certain awareness of the colors of urban furniture, they do not have a common sense of color regarding the city of Istanbul.

Keywords: Urban identity, City color, Urban furniture, Urban planning, Visual identity.


As a sign of visual identity of countries and cities, color is essential for illustrating visual characteristics of a city, and reveals its historical background as well as cultural ties, symbolizing “sui-generis” aspects thereof. A solid, favorable, and sustainable city image with globally competitive power, which produces an economic value for a city, can only be created if the city has a strong identity. Indeed, as Molavi (2015) stated, the lack of color palette of buildings in cities leads to a growing debate about the identity and aesthetics of the city in terms of this deficiency.

According to Tornay (1978), color as a sign of visual identity is not only a cosmetic gloss but also a characteristic of the essence of that thing (Zıllıoğlu, 1996). Thus, color, a component of a city and urban identity, is indispensable in terms of connotations to be attributed to the city.

Zybaczynski (2014) describes permanent colors as the natural texture of a city related to the geography and climate (e.g., soil, rock, vegetation, water, and daylight); semi-permanent colors as street colors, buildings and urban furniture, while temporary colors as billboards, lightings, store windows, and traffic signs. In this sense, we suggest that semi-permanent and variable color preferences can be specified considering the texture of the city.

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Colors have various qualities in terms of connotations, symbols, preferences, and their connection with the essence (Taft, 1998, Madden et al., 2000; Schlossat et al., 2018). Moreover, the fact that color has a complex quality with regard to connotations, symbols and preferences is a common opinion among researches (Zybaczynski, 2014). According to KauppinenRäisänen (2014), “colors have the capacity to communicate.” Colors affect emotions and thoughts culturally, politically, and socially. For instance, a color may represent an ideology and passion, as well as excitement. The election of urban furniture colors thus requires a particular study supported by various disciplines.

Certain studies (Xiao-peng and Xiao-ping, 2011) focus on the historical development of city colors and examine them in the sense of their connotation of the city’s historical and cultural make-up, while some others (Qunyuan and Yanhua, 2011) deal with the systematic urban color management. In the literature, besides the researches that examine color preferences and fragmentation of cities in terms of urban planning (Zhang and Li, 2013), we also witness several studies exploring the relationship between the communication, security culture, and color of cities (Zhen-fu, 2006). Furthermore, certain studies identify the color as an effective factor in preserving the local identity of a city (Zybaczynski, 2014). In the context of Public Relations activities, color is the way a city defines its urban identity; it reveals who and what the city is and therefore constitutes an essential component of the city image. From this perspective, color as a reminder of a city cannot be disregarded since it is an essential component of visual identity indicators, such as urban furniture, city design and landscaping, and the logo and symbols thereof. As an important component of visual identity, color should be part of local governance communication strategies. Color becomes even more crucial in the sense of its relationship with the identity and image of a city if this city is a metropolis that straddles two continents, which has a rich historical background of thousands of years, bringing together many civilizations.

1 Color in City Identity and the Street Furniture of Istanbul

Colors become a symbol that leads to specific emotional experiences in individuals and then grow into a source of interest and reminiscence. This process determines the symbolization of colors based on individual and social life, and the role they play in societal communication (Zıllıoğlu, 1996).

According to Hynes, color, as a component of visual identity, has persuasive power at the subconscious level (Hynes, 2008). While colors stimulate ←46 | 47→emotional responses (Hynes, 2008, Kauppinen-Räisänen, 2014), they also (i) play a role in conveying information, and creating a permanent identity as well as symbolic value, (ii) become a part of the visual identity of the city, (iii) provide information thereabout, (iv) contribute to the formation, representation and preservation of city identity and culture.

Lynch (1960) states that one of the essential factors in terms of city image is color; Liu (2012) however approaches from a different angle and suggests that countries employ colors to define their identity1. According to Mehta (2007), streets are not only an essential part of public space but also significant civic symbols of these spaces.

In the past, the use of colors and local materials with a traditional notion provided a more local quality (Zybaczynski, 2014), whereas today, the globalization has made manufactured products marketed or be accessible all over the world. Thus, urban furniture produced in fashion colors with cutting edge technology has been easily distributed all around the world. These developments driven by technological innovations and globalization, on the one hand, expand the color scale, offering numerous color and design options, on the other hand, make it challenging to preserve the unique identities of the cities.

The fact that fashion trends and anthropogenic preferences prevail in urban designs makes the selection of city furniture and public transportation colors of a metropolis with a long historical background like Istanbul that brings together many diverse cultures even more critical.

2 The Research on Perception of Istanbul’s Chromatic Identity and Urban Furniture

The purpose of the research is to reveal the perception of the Istanbul residents regarding the relationship between color, urban furniture, and urban identity. Therefore, the research is aimed at understanding whether: (i) Istanbul residents perceive color as a component of urban identity, (ii) there is a common color perception symbolizing urban identity in Istanbul, (iii) the Istanbul residents associate urban furniture with urban identity, and (iv) they have awareness of the colors of urban furniture in Istanbul.

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H1. Color is perceived as a component of urban identity in Istanbul.

H2. Istanbul residents have a common sense of color regarding the city.

H3. Istanbul residents believe there is a relationship between urban furniture and urban identity.

H4. Istanbul residents have an awareness of the colors of urban furniture.

2.1 Methods

In the research, the survey method was used as data collection methodology. A face-to-face survey was conducted in May 2019. On the margin of the survey, a total of 14 question (including but not limited to demographic ones) was developed.

The research sample consisted of 274 undergraduates of the Faculty of Communication University of Marmara, Istanbul. Before the questionnaire was applied to the sample mass of the research, a sample of 27 people selected by convenience sampling was pre-tested. Research questions were posed to the undergraduates face-to-face, using questionnaire forms. Data were analyzed through the statistical package SPSS Version 18.0 set at a 95% confidence level. According to the personal information of the participants, the frequency, mean and the level of agreement with the expressions were calculated, and the Chi-Square Test was used to determine the relationship between categorical variables.

2.2 Limitations of the Study

Since the questionnaire contained conceptual questions about communication discipline, the research was limited to the undergraduates living in Istanbul and receiving communication education. To ensure the robustness of the statistic, we drew the sample of the study from a population who were the undergraduates in Faculty of Communication at Marmara University, because they had gotten their education in three different districts of Istanbul (Kadıköy, Bahçelievler, and Beşiktaş) that are different from each other in terms of location and character. Another limitation of the research is that it addresses only the color component among the visual identification indicators.

2.3 Participants

65 % of the participants were female, and 35 % thereof was male. 1.1% of the participants were minor (under the age of 18). 82.8% of the participants were between 18 and 24 years old; 13.1%, 25 and 29; 1.1%, 30 and 34; 1.1%, 35 to 39, ←48 | 49→while 0.7% were over 40 years old. The distribution of the participants in terms of their level of education reveals that 28.1% thereof was freshman; 15.7%, sophomore; 26.3%, 3rd grade; 26.3%, 4th grade; 3.6%, 5th grade and over. The distribution of their residence duration demonstrates that 36.5% of them have been living in Istanbul for 1 to 5 years; 9.1% for 5 to 10 years; 4.4% for 10 to 15 years; 6.9% for 15 to 20 years; and 43.1% for 20 years and more. The distribution of the participants according to the regions they live in Istanbul shows that 38% of them have been residing in the 1st Region, 37.2% of them, in the 2nd Region, and 24.8%, in the 3rd Region2.

3 Results

In this part of the study, the findings of the analysis of the data obtained from the research are explained in the tables presented below.

Fig. 1.3.1: The Significance of Colors as a Component of Urban Identity.

Source: Authors

The participants were asked the question that reads as “Do you think colors are significant as a component (a visual indicator) of urban identity?” 95.3% of the participants stated that they see colors as a component of urban identity, ←49 | 50→while 4.7% stated that they do not The significance of colors as a component of urban identity shown in Fig. 1.3.1.

The question of “What color do you think symbolizes Istanbul?” was posed to the participants, and 35.7% of them replied, “blue”; 24.9% thereof, “turquoise”; and 16.7%, “gray.” Colors that are believed to symbolize Istanbul are given in Tab. 1.3.1.

Tab. 1.3.1: Colors that are Believed to Symbolize Istanbul. Source: Authors




























The participants responded to the question of “Where do you come across the color that symbolizes Istanbul?”, for which multiple markings were allowed, as “in public transport” by 14.1%, “in architectural structures” by 12.5%, and “in waste containers” by 9.5%. Distribution of Places/Objects Attributed to the Color Believed to Symbolize Istanbul are given in Tab. 1.3.2.

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Tab. 1.3.2: The Distribution of Places/Objects Attributed to the Color Believed to Symbolize Istanbul. Source: Authors




Street lights



Bus stops



Waste containers






Telephone booths



Traffic lights



Street signs












Green space designs/landscape



Sitting benches in parks and streets



Public transportation vehicles



Architectural structures






# Due to multiple responses, the quantity of places/objects exceeds the total number of the participants

The question of “What elements do you think urban furniture consist of? ”, for which multiple markings were allowed, were posed to the participants, and 13. 9% of them replied, “architectural buildings”; 10.9% thereof, “green space designs/landscaping”; and 10.7%, “street lights.” (Tab. 1.3.3)

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Tab. 1.3.3: The Distribution of the Responses on the Elements that Make-Up Istanbul’s Urban Furniture. Source: Authors




Street lights



Bus stops



Waste containers






Telephone booths



Traffic lights



Street signs












Green space designs/landscape



Sitting benches in parks and streets



Public transportation vehicles



Architectural structures






# Due to multiple responses, the quantity of places/objects exceeds the total number of the participants

The participants responded to the question of “Do you think that the color, which is the symbol of urban identity, should be preferred in urban furniture?” as “Yes” by 95.3%, and “No” by 4.7%. Distribution of the responses on whether the color as a symbol of urban identity should be used in urban furniture shown in Fig. 1.3.2.

Fig. 1.3.2: The Distribution of the Responses on whether the Color as a Symbol of Urban Identity should be used in Urban Furniture. Source: Authors

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The Perception of Istanbul’s Chromatic Identity The participants whose answer was “Yes” were posed the question of “Where should the color, which is the symbol of urban identity, be applied to?”, and 11.7% of them replied, “bus stops”; 10.4% thereof, “street signs”; and 10.2%, “telephone booths.” The data obtained are given in Tab. 1.3.4.

Tab. 1.3.4: The Distribution of the Responses on the Urban Furnitures which should have the Color Symbolizing Urban Identity. Source: Authors




Street lights



Bus stops



Waste containers






Telephone booths



Traffic lights



Street signs









Floor coverings









Green space designs/landscape



Sitting benches in parks and streets



Public transportation vehicles



Architectural structures






# Due to multiple responses, the quantity of places/objects exceeds the total number of the participants

The participants responded to the question of “What is the color that springs to your mind first when you think about buses (Public Transport) of Istanbul?” as “yellow” by 35.2%, “blue” by 16.5%, “purple” by 15.4% ( Tab. 1.3.5).

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Tab. 1.3.5: The Distribution of the Participants’ Preferences Regarding the Bus (Public Transport) Color of Istanbul. Source: Authors































The participants responded to the question of “What is the color that springs to your mind first when you think about the bus stops of Istanbul?” as “gray” by 41.6%, “achromatic” by 29.9%, “green” by 11.7%. The distribution of the participants’ preferences regarding the color of bus stops of Istanbul are given in Tab. 1.3.6.

Tab. 1.3.6: The Distribution of the Participants’ Preferences Regarding the Color of Bus Stops of Istanbul. Source: Authors































The participants responded to the question of “What is the color that springs to your mind first when you think about the telephone booths of Istanbul?” as “blue” by 60.2%, “gray” by 16.4%, “achromatic” by 7.7%. The distribution of the participants’ preferences regarding the color of telephone booths of Istanbul are given in Tab. 1.3.7

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Tab. 1.3.7: The Distribution of the Participants’ Preferences Regarding the Color of Telephone Booths of Istanbul. Source: Authors

























The chi-square analysis was performed to test the relationship between the variable of “the participants’ residence duration in Istanbul,” and “color preferences that symbolize Istanbul”, “places/objects where these colors are noticed,” as well as “perceiving colors as a component of urban identity.” However, the testing showed that the relationship between these variables was not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level (The p-value of the Chi-Square Test for the relationship between the participants’ residence duration in Istanbul and color preferences that symbolize Istanbul is 0.078 (i.e., p > 0.05, meaning the variables are independent); that of the test for the relationship between the participants’ residence duration in Istanbul and places/objects where these colors are noticed is 0.158 (i.e., p > 0.05, meaning the variables are independent); and that of the test for the relationship between residence duration in Istanbul and perceiving colors as a component of urban identity is 0.840(i.e., p > 0.05, meaning the variables are independent).

The chi-square analysis of the relationship between the color preferences that symbolize Istanbul and the urban furniture where these colors are noticed has shown that the relationship between the variables was statistically significant at a 95% confidence level (X2=313,730; sd. = 84; p=0.000 <0.05). Regarding in which city furniture the first three colors that are thought to symbolize Istanbul are noticed, the participants, who believe that the color symbolizing Istanbul is blue, stated with the highest percent of 17.22 that they noticed this color in public transportation vehicles; the participants, who believe that the color symbolizing Istanbul is turquoise stated with the highest percent of 19.67 that they noticed this color in public transportation vehicles; and the participants, who believe that the color symbolizing Istanbul is gray stated with the highest percent of 17.21 that they noticed this color in waste containers. The data are given in Tab. 1.3.8.

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Tab. 1.3.8: The Chi-Square Test Results for the Relationship between the Color Preferences that Symbolize Istanbul and the Places/Objects where These Colors Are Noticed. Source: Authors

X2 = 313,730; sd=84; p=0,000*

#Percentage is calculated based on column values. *p<0.05

#Due to multiple responses, the n value may exceed the total number of the sample.

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In the study, the chi-square analysis was performed to test the relationship between the color preferences that symbolize Istanbul and the places/objects where the colors, which is a symbol of urban identity should be applied to; however, the testing showed that the relationship between these variables was not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level (p=0.062 >0.05). Furthermore, chi-square analysis was also conducted to test the relationship between the significance of colors as a component of urban identity and the belief that the color, which is the symbol of said identity, should be used in urban furniture, and the testing again showed that the relationship between these variables was not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level (p=0.058 >0.05).

4 Discussion

Participants in the study represent all three regions of Istanbul in terms of their residence locations (38% of the participants live in the 1st Region, 37.2% thereof in the 2nd Region, and 24.8% in the 3rd Region).

The data, which indicates that 95.3% of the participants perceive that colors are components of urban identity and that 4.7% thereof perceive otherwise, has confirmed the H1. Hypothesis of “Color is perceived as a component of urban identity in Istanbul.”

Although a majority of 95.3% of the respondents perceived colors as a component of urban identity, they did not have a common sense of a single color for the city of Istanbul. The distribution of the answers given to the question of “What color do you think symbolizes Istanbul?” was “blue” with the percent of 35.7, “turquoise” with the percent of 24.9, and “gray” with the percent of 16.7. Considering the proportional distribution of the responses, we conclude that the participants do not have a common sense of color with regard to the city of Istanbul. Based on these data, the H2. Hypothesis of “Istanbul residents have a common sense of color regarding the city” has not been confirmed. Why the city was mostly associated with blue and turquoise may stem from the fact that (i) since Istanbul is a sea-city, it connotes “blue” as a natural texture, (ii) the logo of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is dark blue, and (iii) turquoise, a traditional color of Ottoman period, has been popular again throughout the country for the last 15 years.

Again, 95.3% of respondents believed that the color that is a symbol of urban identity should be applied to urban furniture. Moreover, the results of the chi-square analysis regarding in which city furniture the first three colors that are thought to symbolize Istanbul are noticed have revealed that participants responding in blue and turquoise stated (with the highest percent of 17.22, ←57 | 58→and 19.67, respectively) that they noticed these colors in public transportation vehicles; while the participants responding in gray stated (with the highest percent of 17.21) that they noticed this color in waste containers. Thus, the H3. Hypothesis of “Istanbul residents believe there is a relationship between urban furniture and urban identity” appears to have been confirmed.

However, “Istanbul’s buses” were defined by the respondents as “yellow” (35.2%), “blue” (16.5%) and “purple” (15.4%)3. Considering the current bus colors, we may conclude that the participants of the study were aware of these colors. Istanbul’s bus stops are generally defined as in Gray by 41.6%, and in achromatic by 29.9%. These data and the fact that IETT (Istanbul Electric Tramway and Tunnel Establishments) has replaced the metal-sheeted green bus stops with achromatic ones with gray elements (IETT, 2020) suggest that there is an awareness about the colors of the bus stops in Istanbul residents. The fact that regarding the question about telephone boots in Istanbul, 60.2% of the respondents answered “blue” means that this color (corresponds to and thereby) represents the color of the current telephone booths of Istanbul. In the light of these data and the above assessment on the colors of buses, bus stops and telephone booths, which are the city furniture of Istanbul, H4. Hypothesis of “Istanbul residents have an awareness of the colors of urban furniture” has been confirmed.


Presence of a common sense of color with regard to a city and public awareness of the colors of its urban furniture create a favorable condition to properly reflect the urban identity and image. To this end, research aiming to explore the relationship between urban furniture and color has been performed in Istanbul. Based on the findings of the survey on the communication students, the study has concluded that color is a component of urban identity and that there is a relationship between urban furniture and urban identity. The results of the study have also demonstrated that although participants have awareness about the colors of urban furniture and transportation vehicles, they do not have a common sense of color, which represents the visual identity of Istanbul.

The results are far from confirming that the natural texture and cultural structure of the city are primarily considered in determining the colors of urban ←58 | 59→furniture renovated in Istanbul, especially for the last ten years. Today, the colors and designs of urban furniture in Istanbul mostly reflect fashion trends instead. However, Istanbul, a meeting point for many civilizations and a capital of numerous religions and sects, in terms of contributing in regional growth, should have a design and colors that reflect the qualities of this historical and cultural heritage. For the landscaping activities in Istanbul and the election of street furniture, which are intended to ease the life, designs and colors that duly reflect the real identity of the city should thus be preferred, and accordingly city-mapping should not be disregarded. Only in this way can a common perception of the colors of Istanbul be created and can the permanence of an image that corresponds to its identity be ensured. In conclusion, the city of Istanbul needs scientific methods and approaches to color plan and color-mapping as a part of local governance communication strategies.


Hynes, N. (2009). Colour and Meaning in Corporate Logos: An Empirical Study, Journal of Brand Management, 16(8), 545–555.

İETT, (2020). Retrieved from https://www.iett.istanbul/tr/main/pages/otobusduraklari/87, Date of Access: 13-01-2020.

Kauppinen-Räisänen, H. (2014). Strategic Use of Colour in brand Packaging, Packaging Technology and Science, 27(8), 663–676.

Lakens, D. (2011). Orange as a Perceptual Representation of the Dutch Nation: Effects on Perceived National Identification and Color Evaluation, European Journal of Social Psychology, 41(7), 924–929.

Liu, H. U. (2012). Analysis of the Role of China’s National Colors in Modern Graphic Art Design, Packaging Engineering, 24, Retrieved from http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTotal-BZGC201224039.htm, Date of Access: 10-02-2020

Lynch, K. (1960). The Image of the City, MIT Press, Cambridge.

Madden, T. J., Hewett, K., Roth, M. S. (2000). Managing Images in Different Cultures: A Cross National Study of Color Meanings and Preferences, Journal of International Marketing, 8(4), 90–107.

Mehta, V. (2007). Lively Streets. Determining Environmental Characteristics to Support Social Behavior, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 27(2), 165–187.

Minahan, J. B. (2010). The Complete Guide to National Symbols and Emblems, ABC-CLIO, California.

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Molavi, M. (2015). Preserving City Color Plan, Surveying Iranian Submontane Cities, Urbanism. Architecture. Constructions, 6(2), 7–18.

Qunyuan, C., Yanhua, D. (2011). City Color Planning and Management in Changsha [J] . Planners, (1) 18, Retrieved from http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTotal-GHSI201101018.htm, Date of Access: 15-02-2020.

Schloss, K. B., Lessard, L., Walmsley, C. S., Foley, K. (2018). Color Inference in Visual Communication: The Meaning of Colors In Recycling, Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 3(1), 1–17.

Taft, C. (1997). Color Meaning and Context: Comparisons of Semantic Ratings of Colors on Samples and Objects. Color Res. Appl. 22, 40–50.

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Tornay, S. (1978). De la Perception Des Couleurs À L’aperception Symbolique Du Monde. Image (s) et Culture (s). Paris, Eds. Du Seuil, 29(1), 119–140.

Xiao-peng, J., Xiao-ping, H. (2011). City Color Control of Xi’an Old Districts, Urban Problems, 2, Retrieved from http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTotal-CSWT201102010.htm, Date of Access: 10-02-2020.

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1 To illustrate, China is identified by its red and ink color (Liu, 2012); Dutch by orange (Lakens, 2011); Australia by golden and green; India by white and blue, while Canada by red and white (Minahan, 2010).

2 Istanbul Districts in the 1st Region: Adalar, Ataşehir, Beykoz, Çekmeköy, Kadıköy, Kartal, Maltepe, Pendik, Sancaktepe, Sultanbeyli, Şile, Tuzla, Ümraniye and Üsküdar.

Istanbul Districts in the 2nd Region: Bayrampaşa, Beşiktaş, Beyoğlu, Esenler, Eyüp, Fatih, Gaziosmanpaşa, Kağıthane, Sarıyer, Sultangazi, Şişli, and Zeytinburnu.

Istanbul Districts in the 3rd Region: Arnavutköy, Avcılar, Bağcılar, Bahçelievler, Bakırköy, Başakşehir, Beylikdüzü, Büyükçekmece, Çatalca, Esenyurt, Göngören, Küçükçekmece, and Silivri.

3 According to 2019 data (Transporter, 2019), municipal buses in Istanbul are yellow (3030 buses) and purple (985), while public (contracted) buses are blue (2.154).

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Assoc. Prof. Ouidad Yousfi and Assoc. Prof. Nadia Loukil

1.4 Why Should Firms Achieve Strategic CSR?

Abstract: The current chapter shows that strategic corporate social responsibility (hereafter CSR) drives more pioneering socially responsible initiatives than responsive CSR based on “imitative” activities introduced to meet stakeholders’ basic expectations. We conclude that strategic CSR leads to more sustainable financial performance as well as more socially and environmentally responsible innovation. We show that more diversity in top management positions could be a necessary requirement to shape more strategic CSR strategies. We present a critical survey of the literature structured in the following. First, we discuss the main features of CSR strategies and how they have evolved in the last years. Second, we shed light on the puzzled CSR-financial performance association. Then, we focus on the tools provided by strategic CSR to foster innovation potential of businesses and why we should rethink CSR to drive more sustainable innovations. Finally, the chapter discusses how hiring more diverse profiles in top positions could help to get out of the narrow CSR thinking and to go beyond stakeholders’ expectations and reports’ standards this could provide valuable opportunities to widen the innovation range in businesses through the implementation of more social, organizational and marketing innovations as well as the introduction of new products and processes.

Keywords: CSR performance, Strategic CSR, Innovation, Diversity.

1 Introduction

In the last years, many policy and market-makers have introduced programs to increase the firms’ involvement in socially responsible activities. For instance, the French government has provided many incentives to increase CSR investments and transparency, like for example the New Economic Regulations (NER law, 2001)1, the Grenelle Environment Forum (2007 and 2010)2, the Energy Transition Act (2015)3 and the France’s Due Diligence Law (2017)4. The main aim of these programs is to provide incentives to the firms, particularly listed ones, to get involved in more socially responsible activities. In fact, for ←61 | 62→many years, the decision-making process has been drawn on the challenge of how to increase short-term returns, most often at the expense of long-term and sustainable development. Focusing solely on increasing shareholders’ wealth is not any more the guarantee for the business’ survival and legitimacy. Firms have to adopt a more inclusive holders’ philosophy and to be concerned about the identification of their stakeholders and their needs. They have to increase the social performance as well as the financial one. Indeed, socially responsible projects could provide an alternative way to increase the firms’ resources and connections, the effectiveness of their management, and to achieve a sustainable development (Carvalho et al., 2018).

The survey of the literature on corporate governance and CSR shows that there are two main CSR approaches: strategic CSR and responsive CSR. In the following, we present the development of CSR strategies and their specific features. Then, we address how they could benefit to businesses, and help to overcome the current challenges. The last part of this chapter discusses the moderating role of top managers, specifically the influence of their cognitive and demographic traits, on achieving more socially and environmentally responsible businesses.

2 CSR Strategies

Recent studies show the presence of two forms of CSR strategies: strategic CSR and responsive CSR (see among others Vishwanathan et al., 2020; Bocquet et al. 2017). In fact, CSR strategies have matured: firms were first developing CSR activities that are closely related to the scope of their main activities to meet reporting standards and basic expectations of stakeholders. Then they have started to initiate more pioneering and strategic CSR projects based on an active and dynamic interaction with multiple stakeholders’ groups. These strategies have led to the implementation of a more comprehensive and inclusive CSR thinking. These initiatives go beyond basic stakeholders’ requests (Bocquet et al., 2017).

The survey of CSR literature shows that despite the booming number of studies on strategic CSR, it is not yet clearly established how to define strategic CSR strategies in comparison with responsive ones. More specifically, very rare academic papers have tried to distinguish between responsive and strategic strategies of CSR. In the following, we discuss the different CSR approaches in the last years and how they led to the definition of this dichotomous approach of CSR.

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2.1 Responsive CSR

2.1.1 The Defensive CSR

The first age of CSR is based on “defensive” initiatives: they are undertaken when they are profitable. Accordingly, managers are prone to prefer CSR activities protecting financial results, specifically short-term returns, at the expense of more sustainable and less profitable socially and environmentally responsible activities. Consequently, it cannot provide a good understanding of different expectations which increase agency conflicts. Also, as it is focused on actions enhancing the corporate reputation, it could be “poor a vector” of innovation (Bertrand et al., 2020). Despite the involvement in CSR activities, many large corporates have collapsed during the financial crisis. Green models have been promoting to enhance their market image, have been green-washing models initiated to gain customers and suppliers legitimacy. Their practices have contributed to the quick spread of the crisis (Miller, 2009). The consequences of subprime crisis have policy- and market-makers, and managers to think of their role on promoting more sustainable system through responsible governance and management. Enron scandal is definitely a juncture in CSR lite rature that serves to the introduction of the second age of CSR (Owen, 2005).

2.1.2 The Charitable CSR

In the second CSR age, CSR strategies become more associated to charitable actions: this is the philanthropic age of CSR. Investors have to raise their money in projects serving communities’ interests (Carnegie, 1889). In addition to increasing shareholders’ wealth, CSR investments are undertaken to empower the community through an equal distribution of wealth: they are considered the “Gospel of Wealth” that drives growth. The association of philanthropy and investments could initiate strong partnerships between universities and non-profit organizations which increase creativity and carry innovative opportunities (Bereskin and Hsu, 2016). However, this association must be consistent with the main activities of the business to avoid wasting money and non-profitable activities. Accordingly, the undertaken CSR projects have to be profitable as much as conventional activities and to generate significant cash-flows. In fact, these two conditions seem to be prominent when it comes to choosing the appropriate ones, which reduces the scope of “compliant” CSR activities. Consequently, the implemented CSR activities failed drastically to solve real social and environmental issues. According to Burke and Logsdon (1996), binding this philanthropic condition is one of the dimensions ←63 | 64→of strategic CSR, namely the “specificity” dimension. However, in the phil-anthropic CSR, the specificity dimension is generic, and not strategically involved in the CSR policy of the business. Furthermore, Porter and Kramer (2006) underlined that each firm has to deal with social and environmental issues, specific to its industry. Accordingly, CSR actions must be consistent and entirely incorporated with the global business strategy. Philanthropic CSR failed to create dynamic effects able to influence the business strategy, specifically its everyday operations, competitiveness and growth. However, very recently, De Silva and Wright (2019) pointed out that the charity aspect in CSR activities could be a necessary requirement to open innovation, particularly due to the strong connections it is able to establish between profit and nonprofit structures.

2.1.3 The Promotional CSR

Relying on stakeholders to build a brand image conveys more dynamic exchanges in CSR projects: this is the age of social marketing. It comes also from the need of stakeholders to see businesses taking socially responsible initiatives transforming the real world (Lefebvre, 2012). Then, optimal CSR strategy has to align the interests of shareholders and stakeholders by enhancing the stakeholders’ perception of the business. Thus if stakeholders are highlighting environmental issues related to the business activities, the firm is supposed to take advantage of these opportunities to gain the stakeholders trust. This approach is definitely meant to reduce reputational risk through increasing visi bility (Singh and Dhir, 2019). Unlike charitable CSR, promotional CSR and its marketing dimension have been strategically integrated in CSR policies. Singh and Dhir (2019) notice, however, that customers find that many real social issues with low visibility are marginalized at the expense of less significant social issues with greater visibility. They suspect CSR marketing to manipulate stakeholders as there is a huge gap between how CSR shows off and how it is practiced. CSR marketing leads to the development of CSR as an advertising tool and greenwashing (Esper and Barin Cruz, 2019). Many large corporates have been involved in CSR scandals such as Volkswagen test cheating, Siemens bribe scandal, BAE corruption scandal, and General Motors defective ignition switches. Finally, firms that do not apply CSR strategically are applying it in a responsive way: defensive, charitable and promotional CSR approaches are responsive and were not able to integrate CSR as a hardcore of the business global strategy.

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2.2 Strategic CSR

The consecutive ethical scandals leads to the development of a more integrated CSR strategy: a more strategic CSR (Brenkert, 2019). The strategic dimension of CSR seems to be a promising and relevant field for further research (McWilliams and Siegel, 2011). However, the lack of consideration of the strategic aspects of CSR, and the scarcity of theoretical research on the determinants of strategic CSR led several scholars to call for identifying the determinants of strategic CSR. Burke and Logsdon (1996) argue that CSR is strategic “when it yields substantial business-related benefits to the firm, in particular by supporting core business activities and thus contributing to the firm’s effectiveness in accomplishing its mission”. Then, the concept was developed to cover actions put into practice to achieve sustainable competitive advantages. Strategic CSR is, therefore, a set of activities that are simultaneously good for the company and the society, thus improving company’s performance and creating social and economic performances (Porter and Kramer, 2006).

Recently, studies have become more specific regarding the definition of strategic CSR. Athanasopoulou and Selsky (2016) define strategic CSR as a continuous process that takes into account its effect, and helps the company to pursue its business goals while considering the stakeholders’ engagement. It related CSR to the corporate core business, auditing, setting of social targets, reporting, and implementation of social management systems (Visser, 2010). Ruggiero and Cupertino (2018) emphasize that CSR is strategic when it increasingly goes beyond the needs of a company’s stakeholders. They also argue that the assumption of a strategic perspective implies not only the definition of the business’ future direction and objectives but also an understanding of the amount and apportionment of available resources. Sufficient resources allow the firm to develop strategies suitable for pursuing opportunities coherent with its current and prospective environment and capacities. Thus, resources have to be strategically invested and allocated in order to enhance CSR performance. Lately, Vishwanathan et al. (2020) described the non-strategic side of CSR as a blind spot to CSR researchers. Indeed, investigations’ focus has been oriented to the strategic CSR. They have identified specific areas of strategic CSR: (1) reputation enhancement, (2) stakeholder reciprocation, (3) risk mitigation, and (4) innovation capacity.

From a theoretical perception, a company is whether strategic or responsive, while in reality, it can develop responsive CSR strategies in some areas and strategic CSR in other areas. It is clear that Vishwanathan et al. (2020)’s approach encompasses promotional, charitable and promotional aspects of CSR. At this ←65 | 66→stage, we should point out there is no sole definition of the strategic CSR which makes the CSR understanding more blurred.

3 Strategic CSR and Financial Performance

Many studies have focused on building arguments on how corporate responsibility may influence corporate financial performance. From a resource-based view, the firm may perform better than its competitors when it relies, over time, on specific resources such as human, physical and organizational assets: this is the hardcore of the stakeholder theory (Freeman, 1984) Building better relations with employees, customers, suppliers and communities could increase financial performance. In fact, financial outcomes are driven by tangible as well as intangible assets which could be valuable sources of competitive advantages (Hart, 1995; Hillman and Keim, 2001). Raising money in socially responsible activities is likely to enhance the firm’s reputation among customers, suppliers, employees, regulators (Brammer and Pavelin, 2006). It could also decrease agency conflicts between managers and the firm’s stakeholder: reducing agency conflicts leads to a better financial performance. For many years, traditional economic theory considers corporate engagement on CSR activities as an economic disadvantage (Friedman, 1970; Jensen and Meckling, 1976). Indeed, “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits” (Friedman, 1970, p. 1). In other words, managers must focus on the purpose of maximizing shareholders’ return even when they are raising money on CSR projects: CSR returns are not supposed to increase their personal reputation (Barnea and Rubin, 2010). Indeed, corporate social activity is considered as agency costs that could deteriorate corporate profits (Krüger, 2015).

Jensen (2001) argues that firms cannot achieve value maximization without satisfying the interests of its stakeholders: this is the enlightened stakeholder theory. “This strategic CSR is simply a profit-maximization strategy motivated by self-interest and not by a conception of corporate social responsibility” (Baron, 2001, p. 9). Indeed, Porter and Kramer (2006) argue that firms investing strategically with respect to social interests will have a competitive advantage, which leads to enhance firm value. In the same vein, Reinhardt et al. (2008) state that, in most cases, firms make the decision to invest in social activities based on the criterion of profitability like other traditional investments. From another angle of view, Baron (2008) point out that CSR investments could be productive ones. In fact, consumers are more attracted by socially profitable firms and some investors prefer raising their money on CSR activities even when they display lower returns in short term. Accordingly, more responsible ←66 | 67→firms could have higher value due to their reputational premium (Besley and Ghatak, 2007).

Nelling and Webb (2009) reject the causality in CSR-financial performance association. Their findings provide evidence that strong stock market performance leads to greater firm investment in CSR activities when these activities are dedicated to enhancing employees’ relations but the CSR activities do not influence financial performance. In contrast, Hillman and Keim (2001)’ findings confirm the existence of a virtuous circle.

The relationship between CSR and financial performance may be nonlinear. The idea is to assess the trade-off between costs and benefits of CSR. Nollet et al. (2016) shows a U-shaped relationship between CSR performance and accounting performance indicators. Social performance could drive financial performance only when it reaches a certain level. Otherwise, any additional investment on CSR activities lowers financial performance. In hospitality sector, Franco et al. (2020) advance that stakeholders may appreciate firms performing well in CSR but they do not depreciate less socially profitable firms. They conclude that CSR costs could be covered by CSR benefits only when CSR strategy is successful. Their study provides evidence of U-shaped relationship.

Biographical notes

Fatih AYHAN (Volume editor)

Fatih Ayhan is working as an academician in the Economics Department at Bandirma Onyedi Eylul University, Turkey. He has many different studies in several areas. His experiences are focused on especially international economics, labour market, and financial markets.


Title: Local Governance and Regional Development: Current Perspectives