This article integrates ideology into a game-theoretical model of centre-periphery bargains. Ideological differences between national and sub-national elites constitute a major obstacle for the accommodation of autonomy claims. While reforms bringing about decentralization are often analysed systematically as well as through case studies, cases where, despite claims to autonomy, decentralization does not occur have been largely neglected by scholars of territorial politics. Turkey is such a 'negative case'. We argue that ideological distance prevents national parties from accommodating peripheral authority claims. We test our expectation with a mixed-methods approach that combines quantitative analysis of party positions with in-depth qualitative analysis of party documents showing how the different ideological positions of national and Kurdish parties affect decentralization demand and national response in Turkey between 1987 and 2015. Our findings support the theoretical expectations, but also point to additional inferences. Whereas asymmetric authority demands have been widely ignored, symmetric local autonomy has become an important issue in territorial politics.