Turkey Elections on Balance Are Reassuring

By Arthur I Cyr, Carthage College | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), June 13, 2015 | Go to article overview

Turkey Elections on Balance Are Reassuring


Arthur I Cyr, Carthage College, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


Turkey's electorate has voted for democracy and the rule of law over incipient dictatorship, a most positive development. In June 7 parliamentary elections, the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) was abandoned by many voters. The ruling party won the largest bloc of seats in parliament but lost the majority.

President Recep Tayyip Erdo an has become increasingly controversial. Thanks to party-imposed term limits, the long-time prime minister moved to the largely ceremonial post of president. Aggressive moves to strengthen the office have sparked a significant backlash.

The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), directly representing the Kurd population, broke through to win 80 legislative seats. Previously, Kurds have run for parliament on independent lists. Kurdish separatism is a continuing source of friction in Turkey.

The AKP, strongly rooted in the religion of Islam, has governed Turkey since 2002. This has complicated relations with the U.S. and Europe, but the alliance has survived. Last year, Ambassador Ismail Aramaz, of Turkey, was named senior NATO civilian representative in Afghanistan.

Observers in Europe and the U.S. have focused on signs of Islamic extremism in Turkey. Terrorist efforts in Europe since 9/11 have reinforced such anxiety.

Turkey's relative isolation within Europe adds to concern. The European Union has turned the nation's application for membership into an ordeal. No doubt concern about Islamic extremism contributes to caution.

In fact, Turkish developments in important respects have been reassuring. The latest election confirms commitment to representative government. To date, terrorist strikes in the country have boomeranged, with considerable hostility toward perpetrators of these criminal acts.

There is anxiety about domestic military intervention, but the AKP has operated carefully to avoid takeover by the generals. To be sure, tensions and some serious controversies have arisen with the military, but so far coexistence has continued. …

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