Political Islam

The results of Sunday’s elections in Turkey showed that the post-Ataturk regime has reached its limits without, however, indicating its imminent transformation or its collapse. Hence, the triumph of political Islam and the ruin of traditional political forces (with the exception of the Republican People’s Party) constitutes a milestone in Turkish politics rather than a political changeover. The fact that only 55 percent of the electorate is represented in the new National Assembly throws into question the viability of the 10 percent minimum required for parties to enter Parliament. This threshold had been imposed to keep out the Kurdish party, but in Sunday’s elections it backfired. With its 35 percent, political Islam now possesses a majority; but that doesn’t mean it has seized power. The parliamentary system remains under the guardianship of the military leadership. In its attempt to curb the growth of political Islam, Turkey barred historic leader Necmettin Erbakan from politics a few years ago. It has done the same to Recep Tayyip Erdogan – as well as Murak Bolzak (head of the main Kurdish party) and human rights leader Akin Birdal. The election results showed that such restrictions cannot curb a political movement for long – especially one being fueled by low-income voters. From 7.12 percent of the vote in 1987, political Islam gained nearly 22 percent in 1995. Now it has over a third of Turkish votes…

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