Opinion and Editorial

Turkey shows the way

Filed on July 24, 2007

TURKEY’S re-elected Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is right in dubbing the country’s crucial general elections a triumph of democracy and perhaps the most important in the country’s history.

Subsequent parliamentary majority nuances notwithstanding, the Islamist-rooted AK party’s victory has already made some very important points that will resonate in street corners and power corridors across the east and west alike.

Most importantly, the result goes to show that Islam and democracy are not divorced from each other, as increasing sections of the international media, academia and polity have started believing mainly due to the confusion stemming from the so-called war against terrorism. Secondly, it also goes to prove that religious and secular values are not necessarily parallels that never meet, but rather ensure modern-day-specific progress whenever they go hand in hand.

Millions of self-professed Turkish secularists have also emphasised to countries with similar fortunes and others watching closely that armed forces’ involvement in the political process, mainly on the basis of their muscle but neatly marketed with selling slogans will just not do anymore. As is evident from the 47 per cent vote, secular and religious Turks alike did not think much of the army’s threat of intervention to “defend Turkey’s secular system”.

Indeed, Turkey’s public has returned from the ballot with numerous valuable precedents. Now, the right way forward for the AKP would be to quickly move for consensus with regard to appointment of the president, and not re-nominate Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, considering how the crisis was sparked in the first place.

With Kurdish deputies, secular representatives and right-wingers providing ingredients for a potentially explosive parliament, prudence dictates camaraderie rather than confrontation be the order of the day. Especially since more than the elections, what happens hereon will determine EU’s response to Erdogan’s promise of persisting with the “European Union goal”.

And the last thing Erdogan would want now is needless finger pointing that would take little time undoing much of the newly gained momentum. Time is ripe for Turkey to set yet more telling examples for the region and beyond. The passing days have tested the resolve and response of the people. The coming days will test the maturity of the government, especially the guy at the top.

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