The Debate on Decentralization in the Ottoman State (1876-1913)


AMME IDARESI DERGISI, vol.51, no.2, pp.145-176, 2018 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 51 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.145-176
  • Keywords: Decentralization, Second Constitutional Era, provincial governments, Prens Sabahattin, Party of Union and Progress
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


One of the most significant discussions among Young Turks was about how the configuration of the provincial governments needed to be. On one camp, there were the decentralists, who supported Prens Sabahattin and the idea that broad authorities should be given to the provincial governments. On the other camp, there were the centralists, who were members of the Party of Union and Progress (Ittihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti) and advocated that this kind of an application would be a subject for divisions in the country. The argument, which was basically about decentralization and grew into a paper war in the strictest sense during the 1908 elections, was submitted to the Chamber of Deputies of the Ottoman Empire (Meclis-i Mebusan) after the elections. Eventually, in 1913, by means of the enactment of the law for provisional law for general provincial administration (Idare-i Umumiye-i Vilayat Kanun-i Muvakkat), the provincial governments of the country were reconfigured, and as a result of this, the discussions at issue related with the decentralization came to an end. On the other hand, interestingly, the law, which was enacted by the unionists, who were also known for being supporters of centralization, comprised provisions that would provide provinces with ultimately decentralized governance. In this article, through examining the decentralization discussions in the Second Constitutional Era (II. Mesrutiyet Donemi) by taking the press of the period and parliamentary minutes into account, it was aimed to shed light on the process of the enactment of the law about provincial governments and the reasons behind passing the law in question.