OPINION

Turkish paradoxes

There has been much debate over the results of the recent elections in Turkey; and with good reason. It is not every day that such a radical change overturns the established order in any country. And in the case of a country of the size and strategic importance of Turkey, the significance of such a change becomes magnified. An entire political order effectively dismissed via democratic procedures; this is a rare and paradoxical phenomenon in a country with restricted democracy. Of course, there are limits to the overhaul. The leader of the most popular party cannot become prime minister due to a bad habit he had of reciting poetry in public – something not smiled kindly upon by many Turkish judges and army officers – the only true heirs and protectors of an Ataturkian orthodoxy with little tolerance for religious allusions. On the other hand, nearly half of the Turkish electorate are no longer represented in Parliament due to an electoral law – the 10 percent threshold – which was created with the aim of excluding certain groups. Never trust democracy! To a considerable degree, the overhaul was a vote against the political establishment in a country where the latter is characterized by mismanagement, widespread corruption and massive economic inequalities. The people had simply had enough. And that is how the masses found themselves in Turkey’s political spotlight; the side of Turkey the establishment had tried to suppress, and one unfamiliar to foreign politicians…