OPINION

Islamist victory

As shown in the landslide victory by the Islamic-leaning Justice and Development Party (AK) in Turkey’s parliamentary elections on Sunday, the prolonged economic and social crisis eventually wrecked the country’s political scene. Rarely does such a collapse of the political and party establishment take place, even less via an electoral process and without a prior period of extensive political anomaly. This is a political earthquake whose size can only be grasped by imagining the hypothetical failure of PASOK and New Democracy parties to enter the Greek Parliament. The political crisis in Turkey is obviously a very deep one, and it is striking that the Turkish voters inflicted an overwhelming blow against their political elite, forcing a radical regrouping of the entire political scene. The political message from Turkey’s polls by far transcends its national borders. It is to be hoped that it will reach the ears of Greece’s arrogant politicians (there are plenty of them), be they in the government or in the opposition, and who tend to make political plans or govern by taking for granted their absolute control over the electorate. The repercussions of the Turkish electoral outcome on Greek-Turkish relations may well prove positive. This was echoed, at least, in recent remarks made by the AK leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his desire, as expressed before the polls, to visit Athens as a first stop on his tour of European states. Besides, past crises in Greek-Turkish elections, including the invasion of Cyprus, have been the product of the policies implemented by the secular political and military regime and not the Islamists. The government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis responded to Erdogan’s overture (on the fringes of the Brussels extraordinary meeting 10 days ago) and Greece was the first of all the EU states to reach out to Turkey’s Islamists for cooperation and dialogue. It is to be hoped that this positive course will be backed with goodwill gestures on both sides. The election of a single-party government with an absolute majority in the Turkish Parliament will allow for serious decisions on Greek-Turkish issues. We will soon be able to test the rhetoric of the new Turkish government, even though it is certain that, when it comes to crucial decisions, Erdogan will concede to the all-powerful military.