Avoiding a Coup

Turkey is headed for early parliamentary elections after a second massive protest against the AK Party candidate for president. As I mentioned last month after the first protest, the AK Party hold a substantial majority in the Grand National Assembly and thus can elected whoever they want as president. Prime Minister Erdogan has stepped out of the race in favour of his Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. As a result the size of the protest march went up from 300,000 to about a million.

The only tool the Opposition had to stop the election of an AK president was to boycott the parliamentary vote. The country’s highest court ruled that a quorum was not present, so the first round of voting was invalid. This was a step short of what normally happens when the ruling party falls afoul of the secular military and judiciary. The army has ousted four governments in the last 47 years. The most recent occurance was in 1997.

But just how secular are the military and the judiciary. Turkey is an Islamic state, even if it is not an Islamist state? They may not want headscarves, but they also don’t want Christians. Turkey’s secularism is entirely about its relationship to the rest of the Islamic world. It is also a key factor in its bid for membership in the European Union.

If you consider the size of the Greek and Armenian communities, Imperial Ottoman Turkey was a lot more favourable to Christians than secular republican Turkey.


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