Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Elections for Turkey

The Constitutional Court made its unfortunate, yet predictable, ruling today, "upholding" the secular system by rejecting democracy. The response of PM Erdogan was the election call. In a previous post I noted how the opposition's argument has little actual merit--the New York Times, too, noted that the decision was more political than legal.

Abdullah Gul is the only clear presidential candidate because he is the candidate of a party that holds very close to 2/3 of the seats (the necessary majority). Note that this is possible because of the antidemocratic 10% threshold for the National Assembly. As a result of this threshold, AK took about 65% of the seats with 34% of the votes in the previous election, as only two parties qualified for parliament. This threshold exists because of the fear of marginal Islamist parties.

While AK obviously is on a much different position in the political spectrum from myself, were I Turkish I would support AKP as the best party to lead the country toward full democracy. In fact it is doubtful whether any other party could accomplish this! In this role AKP has been thrust into a liberalizing position, whatever the natural tendencies of its leaders such as Gul and Erdogan. In order to defend their right to be in the political spectrum, AK figures must reach for legitimation to liberal democratic rights--meaning that the Islamist party is (quite effectively) enacting economic reforms needed for EU membership and supporting all-around political reform and liberalization. Quite unlike some other places.

Well, we will see the electorate's opinion soon enough.

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