The republic of Turkey is facing a huge problem in its democratic regime. It is clear the ideological division of the country’s current government. On one side stands the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party: the Justice and development Party (AK), which are defenders of a islamic-based spiritual government and have majority on the parliament; on the other side, the president: Ahmet Necdet Sezer, regarded as a secularist, which are the defenders of a secular government. However, these differences did not hinder the Turkish reaching its primary goals.
Two months ago, however, a friction has arisen between the two main political sects of Turkey. As the presidential voting process by the parliament neared, secularists and the AK have initiated a direct batlle with purpose of electing their candidates. Erdogan has nominated Abdullah Gul, current foreign minister of Turkey and member of AK, to be a presidency candidate; on the other hand, the secularists were so divided that they did not nominate any one with real chances of winning. However, indirectly, they have united themselves under one purpose: boyccotting the election. When the day arrived, May 2nd, they did so and forced Gul to abandon its bid. Therefore, the presidential voting process did not decide who the next president would be, creating great instability in the government.
One fact that influenced the decision to boycott the elections was that, using the enormous power they had, the military forces have threatened to intervene, if Abdullah Gul was elected. A general has said that a secular government must be maintained at all costs. This action is a direct aggression to democracy, and was not well accepted by the rest of the world. The military has already demonstrated its power when made inscursions in northern Iraq in order to pursuit Kurdish sects that perpetuate attacks in the region. Consequently, they did not respect the US warning that emphasizes the need of non-intervention in Iraq.
Another factor of instability was the enormous manifestation in favor of the secular government. More than 1 million citizens have participated in May protests throughout Turkey demonstrating their conservative will. This can be explained by the fact that this type of government has already made many progresses in Turkish relations, specially on the European Union issue.
In order to maintain the order inside the country, the Turkish parliament has approved July 22nd as a date for early general elections (supposed to happen in November) so that new members of the parliament would be elected. By doing that, new presidential elections will be agreed and Turkey hopes to solve once and for all this problem of internal dispute. In a battle between religion and secularism, democracy should prevail at all cost.
U.S. intervention on the matter
The United States of America have interests in creating good relations with Turkey since it is located in the nexus of three important areas: Europe, Caspian region and the Middle East. As a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and making frontiers with Iraq, Turkey is a valuable ally to be made by the US and the american government seems not to have lost the opportunity to profit in the case, since they have already chosen which side to support. Condoleezza Rica, while visiting the country on May 12, gave her support to the AK party saying that no other party had strengthened and democratized the country so well and she has also criticized the military urging for democracy in the election process.
It can be seen that US is trying to intervene in matters they should not. By creating excuses just to approximente of the political group that will problably win the next elections, the United States make clear their need of a partner in such strategic position and hostile region. The problem is that it compromises an impartial decision in the presidential voting process. A stabilized Turkey is a big step towards peace and security in the region. And that can only be achieved with the will of its citizens and not of a country that the only thing that matters is itself.
Dimas Mateus Fazio