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Turkey Election
Analysis: A victory, but a qualified one
Election result obstructs Erdogan's plans to change the face of Turkey, says Al Jazeera's senior political analyst.
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2011 20:03
Erdogan will likely aim to consolidate his party's political powerbase in his third term as prime minister [Reuters]

Al Jazeera's senior political analyst examines the consequences of Turkey's parliamentary elections as Recep Tayyip Erdogan is elected to a third term as prime minister.

What is the significance of this result?

This election was a referendum on two main issues. One was on the performance of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), notably on the economic performance of the AKP over the last four years.

Secondly, it was a referendum over the sweeping constitutional changes that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had asked the people to enable him to make, or at least to pass through parliament in order for them to make in a referendum.

 

Clearly the Turkish people have given him an extra few points to underline their satisfaction with the economic situation, and the progress Turkey has made over the last decade.

But they didn’t give him a two-thirds majority, or enough votes in parliament to enable him to present his idea of a new Turkey, through major changes to the constitution that touched the judiciary, the army, as well as the oppression of minorities, and so forth.

So I think the AKP has something to celebrate, in terms of a third mandate, but not enough to celebrate the possibility of changing the face of Turkey for years to come.

Where does Erdogan take the country from here?

What he will do now is consolidate his own party’s powerbase. He will underline the party's pragmatism and its commitment to the diversity of the new Turkish state.

We will also see him enact his mega-national plans, whether it is opening a new tunnel under the Bosphorus, new industrial cities and so forth. So I think there are serious structural and strategic national projects that he will be able to enact in his new term.

That will allow him to solidify his last 10 years of achievement, and take Turkey to a new level where it will not only be a regional player, but also, as the 17th economic power in the world, an increasingly important player on the world stage.

What are the implications of this election for the wider region?

Whatever Arab policy the AKP has had over the past decade - including the so-called "zero problems with neighbours" policy, and especially the state-to-state relations that included normalising relations with Arab dicators - clearly the Arab awakening has put a wrench into all of that, and put a stop to the normalisation of Turkey’s relations with its southern neighbours.

The Arabs have seen Turkey move swiftly on asking Hosni Mubarak to step down in Egypt, but also react with serious hesitation when it came to the bloody policies of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

It was clear that Turkey had put its interests above its declared principles. It disappointed many in the Arab world, in that it did not act swiftly and categorically to condemn the Libyan and Syrian leaders, and ask them to step down.

Now, in the last few days, we have witnessed Erdogan taking a far more principled stand - perhaps a bit late, but late is better than never. But clearly it is not enough for Turkey to turn over a new page with the Arab world.

I spoke with foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu extensively this week about Turkey’s relations with the Arab world.

I think we should expect that Turkey will make a major foreign policy stand or statement that will underline and clarify future Turkish policy with its neighbours, and make it clear that it stands with change and will not stand with those who are indifferent to, or resistant to, change in the Arab region.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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