Friday, August 01, 2008

Islamic-light Ruling Party in Turkey Survives its Court Day, Turkey Ponders What Next

The ruling, Islamic-light Justice and Development Party (AKP) has survived a court challenge that sought to ban the party and forbid its leaders, including the prime minister, from politics for five years. The party was nearly banned as six judges voted to ban it while seven needed to for it to be outlawed.

The AKP has been controversial since it won a 2006 election for Turkey's leadership. The party has sought to ease restrictions on display of Islam in public and even allowed headscarves to be worn on state college campuses until the Constitutional Court reinstated the ban.

The AKP's main competitor is the Republican People's Party (CHP). The CHP is nominally socialist but in reality is a military-backed, secular, non-evil fascist personality cult of Mustafa Ataturk.

Both parties favor European Union integration while the AKP is seen as more business friendly and "open minded" on a variety of issues. During the court case the AKP showed its political cunning by charging 86 military and CHP members of coup plotting.

Now that the case is over the AKP can focus on leading while being wary of futher court cases or coups, the court sent a clear warning by limiting party funding. Markets were relieved at the news and Turkey is going through the best two days of its stock market in a long time. Europe is also relieved at derailing of the prospect of a "judical coup." The AKP will probably placate the CHP by allowing it to remain in control of the nomination process for army generals. The CHP will draw lines in the sand; however, like protecting relations with Israel or preventing any further openly pro-Islamic moves.

Turkey has always between East and West. While sometimes that has benefited it in cultural and politics, today it is caught between secular vs. religious, military vs. civilian, pro-West and Islamist.

No comments: