Dr Digdem Soyaltin Colella

Dr Digdem Soyaltin Colella
Dr Digdem Soyaltin Colella
Dr Digdem Soyaltin Colella


Email Address
Office Address
F37 Edward Wright Building
Old Aberdeen Campus
Dunbar Street
AB24 3QY

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School of Social Science


Digdem Soyaltin Colella is a lecturer (Assistant Professor) of Politics and Public Policy at the University of Aberdeen, UK. She is also a member of the global strategy reference group of Transparency International Berlin. Her research concentrates on the politics of corruption, mechanisms of state capture and regime survival, autocratic bureaucracies & illiberal governance, and Southeast European and Turkish politics. Her publications appeared in Third World Quarterly, Europe-Asia Studies, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, South European and Black Sea Studies, International Political Science Review, European Politics and Society, Turkish Studies, International Spectator, Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science, and Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies. She is the author of EU Good Governance Promotion in the Age of Democratic Decline (ed, Palgrave, 2022) and Europeanisation, Corruption and Good Governance in the Public Sector: The Case of Turkey (Routledge, 2017).

Before joining the University of Aberdeen, she worked as an associate professor in Political Science at Altınbaş University in Istanbul. She was also the academic director of the Jean Monnet Module “EU Good Governance Promotion Inside and Beyond Its Borders" (EUGOGOV) funded by the European Commission (2018-2021) and acted as a board member at Transparency International (TI) Turkey between 2018 and 2022. 

She received her Ph.D. degree in Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin and worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Stockholm University. She holds MSc. in European Affairs from Lund University and M.Phil in Political Science from Central European University. She contributed to the ANTICORRP (Anticorruption Policies Revisited) project, the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index of Transparency International UK, and the ICF Brussels Project on Evaluation of the effectiveness of the Council of Europe support to the implementation of the European Convention of Human Rights in Turkey


  • PhD Political Science 
    2014 - Freie Universitaet Berlin 
  • MpHil Political Science 
    2010 - Central European University 
  • MSc European Affairs 
    2009 - Lund University 
  • MA EU Studies 
    2006 - Dokuz Eylul University 
  • BA International Relations 
    2004 - Ege University 

External Memberships

Global strategy reference group member, Transparency International Berlin, Germany

Contracted external reviewer, EU4 Rule of Law project Western Balkans and Turkey, Transparency International Turkey

Contracted country expert, Varieties of Democracy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden 

Contracted external reviewer, National Integrity System Assessment, Transparency International Turkey

Member, Turkish Political Science Association

Member, Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN)

Member, ECPR Standing Group (Anti)-Corruption and Integrity 

-Article reviewer for  Journal of European Public Policy, Turkish Studies, Political Studies Review, Global Affairs, Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Journal of Contemporary European Studies

-Book proposal/manuscript reviewer for Oxford University Press, Palgrave, Routledge, Edinburgh University Press 

-Reviewer, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) research project applications  Scientific and Technological Research Institution of Turkey (TUBITAK) research project application, Jean Monnet Scholarships Evaluation Committee, EU Turkey Delegation


Research Overview

Good governance and anti-corruption policy, global governance of corruption, EU and fight against corruption, politics of corruption, mechanisms of state capture, autocratic bureaucracies, illiberal governance, authoritarian regime survival, Turkish politics,  Southeast European politics.

Research Areas

Politics and International Relations

Research Specialisms

  • European Studies
  • Turkish Studies
  • Politics
  • Public Administration
  • Public Policy

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research

My current research: 

1) (under review) Ecofeminist Struggle for Epistemic Recognition beyond the EU? The Case of Akbelen Forest in Turkey (with D. Gönenç)

2) (under print) The Geopolitics of Turkey’s Rise as a Drone Power (with T. Demiryol)

3)  EU as a resilience builder? The governance of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Paper presented “Exploring Vulnerability(ies) and Resilience: Learning from Populations on the Move” Istanbul Policy Center–Sabancı University–Stiftung Mercator Initiative 5-6 May 2023, Istanbul 2023 (D. Sert)

4) How do populist governments get away with corruption? Hungary and Turkey (with R. Csehi) Paper presented in the ECPR Joint Sessions,  Luneburg 24-28 March 2024

5)True environmentalists, provocateurs, and dangerous others: Populist discursive tactics against environmental mobilizations in Turkey, Paper to be presented in the BISA conference, 5-7 June 2024






Past Research

 2024-2023 articles

The Strategic Use of Narratives and Governance of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Major Autocratisers in Europe, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies,(with D. Sert)  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19448953.2024.2307820

Unusual middle power activism and regime survival: Turkey’s drone warfare and its regime boosting effects, Third World Quarterly (with T. Demiryol) https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01436597.2022.2158080

The EU Accession Process, Chinese Finance and Rising Corruption in Western Balkan Stabilitocracies: Serbia and Montenegro, Europe-Asia Studies, https://doi.org/10.1080/09668136.2022.2115013

When does bureaucracy function in autocratizing regimes? The Court of Auditors in Turkey, Turkish Studies,  https://doi.org/10.1080/14683849.2022.2126767

 How to capture the judiciary under the guise of EU-led reforms: domestic strategies of resistance and erosion of rule of law in Turkey, Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 22:3, 441-462, https://doi.org/10.1080/14683857.2022.2044577

Illiberal challenges to the European Union’s legitimacy from within and without: the rule of law and refugee crises, Journal of Contemporary European Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/14782804.2022.2112158 (with B. Saatçioğlu and D. Buhari Gulmez)






Anti-West Propaganda in Authoritarian Regimes :The case of Turkey (funded by School of Social Sciences -University of Aberdeen) in collaboration with Dr. Aykut Ozturk, University of Glasgow




Funding and Grants

Jean Monnet Module EU Good Governance Promotion Inside and Beyond Its Borders (EUGOGOV) (2018-2021) European Commission,  Project number 599443-EPP-1-2018-1-TREPPJMO-MODULE (23.200EUR)

Swedish Institute Post-doc Scholarship (6 months- 108.000 SEK)

Swedish Institute Ph.D. write-up grant (6 months-90.000 SEK)

Kolleg Forsger Gruppe-College on Transformative Power of Europe, Ph.D. scholarships (3 years) (45.000 EUR)

Central European University, Budapest MpHil Scholarships (1 year) (10.200 EUR)

Swedish Institute Master Scholarships (2 years) (22.000 EUR)


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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals

Working Papers