Monday, June 8, 2015

Islamists Lose Their Majority in the Turkish Parliamentary Elections

           Turkey’s Islamist ruling party lost its majority of seats in the Turkish parliamentary elections yesterday. 

            A new secular Kurdish party achieved the 10% threshold to hold seats in Parliament, which will be the first time that Kurds will be Members of the Turkish Parliament, while the two main secular opposition parties earned the rest of the majority.  None of these parties is likely to govern in coalition with the ruling party. 

A coalition government must be formed by a certain time or else Turks will have to return to the polls for another round of parliamentary elections.  The current Prime Minister will continue to govern in the meantime, but only as a caretaker.  The Islamist President will remain in power, but his attempt to gain more powers constitutionally will be halted, as Turkey will remain a parliamentary, not a presidential state. 

The growing authoritarianism of Turkey’s Government and the President’s attempt at gaining more powers, as well as public corruption and an economic slowdown were the issues that led to the defeat of the Islamists.  The Islamist Government had repressed dissidents, compromised the independence of the judiciary and violated the freedom of the press.

            Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, had long been a secular representative republican oasis in the Middle East and a reliable Western ally, but has suffered worsening relations with its neighbors and the West amidst various crises in the Middle East, including the Syrian Civil War and the Islamist-Baathist insurgency in Iraq.  Turkey has aspired to join the European Union, but faced obstacles because of its decline of secularism and civil rights. 

           It is hoped that Turkey will enjoy liberty, secular civilian representative government, equality for minorities, peace, stability and prosperity.  It is also hoped that a new government will restore Turkey to its role as a trusted Western ally against Islamism, play a more helpful role in resolving the ethnic Greek-Turkish division in Cyprus and become more integrated into Europe.  

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