Wednesday 2 May 2007

Turkey belongs outside Europe for now

Is this a democracy?

I have been watching events in Turkey lately and I think we can now conclude that it does not belong in Europe, it is best kept at the periphery of almost-European but never attaining the stature of a truly free society with European values.

Turkey is presumably a democratic country where a party with Islamic leanings holds the majority in parliament having been voted in by the people of Turkey.

The parliament exercises the right to elect a president who would in most cases be a member of the ruling party.

However, there is a fearful and uncomfortable undemocratic situation enveloping the country as certain vocal elements in the country try to derail the process in the name of keeping Turkey in its strict and suffocating secularist model.

It would make one wonder what the Turkish democracy is for and what the people of Turkey have required if the party they have voted into power cannot then exercise prerogative and privilege because some sections of society suspect the ruling party would de-secularise the country.

Protectors of democracy

Whilst the ruling party has had certain Islamist policies it has maintained if not protected the secularism of Turkey regardless of the fact that the wives of the ruling elite wear scarves.

This unholy alliance of undemocratic forces which now includes the opposition parties, the wayward army and even the judiciary have thwarted every attempt to present a viable candidate for the presidency from the ruling party such that the Prime Minister has now called for elections to be held on the 24th of June.

Evidently, it appears the Islamic party is keen on protecting the democratic credentials of Turkey whilst the opposition is keen on protecting the secularism of Turkey regardless of the harm it does to democracy.

Between democracy and the secularist dogma, democracy should signify in the most certain terms what the people want; even if it includes ditching the secularist millstone.

The power of democracy

It would be interesting to see the result of this election especially if the Islamist party is returned to power.

The pragmatism of the Islamist party is commendable; they have also suggested that the president be popularly elected by the people of Turkey.

In fact, one can say that only the Islamic party is able to make Turkey a European entity and without them, Turkey would continue to be a proudly backward-looking country with a weighty heritage of being hamstrung to secularism when in fact it is the fear of religion that has kept them from respecting the very basic tenets of popular suffrage and democracy.

For now, Turkey belongs outside Europe, way outside Europe for the foreseeable future.


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