A Victory for Democracy

Reuters: Turkish court rules against closing AK Party


The Justice and Development Party of Turkey, the AKP, was re-elected last year with 47% of the vote. Secularists, mostly in the military, have since repeatedly charged the party and its members of having an Islamist agenda and of trying to introducing Sharia law. The AKP, for obvious reasons, has consistently denied that charge. More recently, a group of secular Turks were arrested for planning a coup to overthrow the AK government.

A good decision

The model of secularism and democracy in the Middle East, Ataturk’s Turkey, was almost dealt a huge blow today. Thankfully, Turkey’s Constitutional Court made the right decision today by not banning the AK Party.

In contrast to what one might expect, the less secular AKP is more democratic and liberal than the most secular parties of Turkey. In fact, the AKP has decreased censorship, expanded women’s rights, and reached out to minorities.

The fight is not over

The fight is not over. The case today was won by only one vote (6 to 5, 7 votes were needed) – 8 of the court’s 11 justices are secularists. As well, the court did agree to impose financial restrictions on the AKP (state funding for the party was cut in half).

And don’t think the secularists have given up. Military intervention is always a possibility, but what are more likely are attempts by secularists to slowly remove the AKP’s influence from public society.

And as Howard Eissenstat points out, “If liberalization and parliamentary democracy cannot deliver on basic issues, Turkey’s devout, like its military, may opt for a harder path.”

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