Citizens of Ankara: Re-Assemble!

© Facilitation Session of the General Assembly of citizen assembly

This innovative Citizens' Assembly fosters trust and engagement among citizens and local stakeholders, building a more resilient and cohesive social and political landscape across the City of Ankara.


For over two decades, Turkey's capital Ankara has endured the rule of a Mayor known for anti-democratic behaviour, influenced heavily by an authoritarian state. This transformed Ankara from a once exemplary city for urban development and democratic ideals into a polarised and socially fragmented metropolis of around 7 million residents. In 2019, a new Mayor supported the "Citizens of Ankara: Re-Assemble!" project, proposing a lasting Citizens' Assembly as its core. 


The Citizens' Assembly is built on trust, rooted in a thorough analysis of urban social and spatial structures, using a straightforward yet powerful facilitate-then-build method. Objectives include persuading city stakeholders to join this innovative Citizens' Assembly with a metropolitan-scaled structure, shaping vital local policies, gaining approval from the elected local parliament, and uniting a resilient citizenry. Supported by alternative media and strategic public relations, the initiative snowballed, generating content, forming assembly working groups, and fostering extensive interactions, encounters, and trust among stakeholders. 


Over four years, 2,000 institutional stakeholders and 5,000 citizens collaborated to establish this Assembly, which has crafted over 100 policies covering urban identity, sustainable development, social cohesion, local development, transportation, planning, and vulnerable groups. These policies, approved by the Municipal Council, have started to be implemented. It has become the most well-known participatory experiment in Turkey, against all odds, in an extremely polarising political context. Acknowledged with two international awards, the project proved instrumental in fostering solidarity and cohesion among Ankara's citizens during the pandemic and recent earthquake.

Project owner
Savaş Zafer Şahin
Vice President of the Ankara Citizen Assembly
Project owner
Mansur Yavaş
Mayor of the Metropolitan Municipality of Ankar