(Un)Democratic change and use of social sanctions for domestic politics: Council of Europe monitoring in Turkey

Digdem Soyaltin Colella* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Monitoring is the formal instrument through which the Council of Europe imposes social sanctions on its member countries by publicly exposing their wrongdoings. As a soft governance tool, monitoring is argued to have a limited impact on state policies. Yet, in Turkey, Council of Europe monitoring worked to promote pro-democratic change and then backfired through the escalation of authoritarian practices. This article shows that being subjected to Council of Europe monitoring can lead to democratic change if and when its sanctioning requirements fit the political agenda of the incumbents and empower them against domestic opponents. In the case of misfit, the political costs of aligning with the Regional Organisations’ sanctions increase for governments at home. Yet, as the Turkish case indicates, the outcome has not been inertia but rather the reverse as the government used the Council of Europe’s social sanctions to legitimise its undemocratic measures until it regained power in internal political struggles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-500
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Issue number4
Early online date26 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

This work has received support from (a) the DFG-funded Kolleg-Forschergruppe ‘The Transformative Power of Europe’ at Freie Universität Berlin (which funded the first workshop in Berlin) and (b) Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (which funded the second workshop in Stockholm).


  • Council of Europe
  • monitoring
  • social sanctions
  • domestic politics
  • Turkey
  • democratic change
  • authoritarianism


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