Killing competitive authoritarianism softly: the 2019 local elections in Turkey
South European Society and Politics
317 - 342
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On 31 March 2019 Turkish voters ended the Islamist local governance in the country’s largest cities after 25 years and handed the ruling AKP its most serious electoral defeat since its rise to power in 2002. The article explores the electoral strategies of major parties in the local election, offers a comparative analysis of the results, and discusses post-election developments, including the rerun in Istanbul. The election and its aftermath reaffirmed the competitive authoritarian nature of the regime, as the governing bloc enjoyed an uneven playing field, while the opposition had to meet a higher electoral bar than the incumbents to win. The economic crisis, growing discontent with the government’s policies, and effective coordination of opposition parties facilitated this outcome.