Thursday, July 31, 2008

Democracy prevails in Turkey - but only just

For the past year, Turkey has been in the midst of a slow-burning political crisis, as the democratically elected Justice and Development Party (a moderate Islamic party) struggles for power with the authoritarian secular elite used to running the show. Things came to a head last week, when the secularists attempted to ban the governing party for supposedly plotting an Islamic state. If they had been successful, it would have forced early elections and banned the sitting Prime Minister and President from politics, effectively overturning the will of the Turkish people.

Fortunately, that's not going to happen - the Turkish constitutional court has voted for a fine, rather than a ban. So, democracy prevails - but only just. The ruling is seen as putting the government "on notice" that it may be shut down in the future, so its a suspension of the crisis rather than a resolution. But it does at least allow more time for Turkey's democratic culture to strengthen and grow deeper roots. Unless, of course, the army (Turkey's primary anti-democratic force) decides to intervene...