Thursday, June 09, 2011

Something Important To Watch...The Turkish Elections

This Sunday, Turks go to the polls in what is likely going to be a definitive election to decide whether the nation with the largest conventional military in Europe goes fully Islamist or stays tenuously connected to the West.

For the past nine years, the ruling party has been Tayipp Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has steadily instituted an Islamist agenda, undermined Turkey's democracy, packed the courts with judges of its own choosing and strengthened Turkey's relationship with Iran and Syria.

Erdogan and the AKP have also purged the army, the guarantor of Turkey's secular state according to its 1982 constitution...which the AKP says it's going to rewrite if they get a super majority .

Unlike the 1979 revolution in Iran, Turkey's revolution has come slowly and methodically, and it will likely be no less of an Islamic Republic than Iran, with everything that implies. Sunday's election is likely the last stop on the road.

Unfortunately, the polls look pretty good for the AKP. The big question is whether the opposition parties will garner enough votes to get enough seats in parliament to halt at least some of Erdogan's agenda.

The two main opposition parties are the center-left secular Republican People's Party ( CHP), rejuvenated under a popular new leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP).

The AKP is seekingat least 330 seats in the 550-member house, which would allow it to amend the constitution without the support of other parties and put the text to a referendum. A two-thirds majority of 367 seats would enable it to pass the amendments unilaterally. Right now, the AKP has 310 seats.

According to Turkish election laws, a party needs to get above 10 percent to win seats in parliament. If they get less than 10 percent, their seats are reapportioned to the other parties, with the largest party getting the biggest share. The CHP has a decent chance of increasing its share of the vote from 20% to 30%, so the biggest question is whether the MHP is able to break the 10% barrier. With some Kurdish-backed candidates also expected to make it to parliament, there might just be enough opposition votes to stave off an AKP super-majority.

The situation bears watching, as they say.

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meyer said...

Your comment on the importance of these elections is spot on, I don't think many people understand what's at stake here.

However, as much as a menace the turkish islamists are, I don't think the MHP is any good either.

These folks are just as anti-semitic as the islamists, if not even more so. Calling them "nationalists" isn't all that accurate either. Let's give them their proper name: fascists. Because that is exactly what they really are.

Rob said...

Oh, I agree...but I see them as the lesser of two evils compared with the AKP, especially as the best they would be is a small minority member of the opposition.