Thursday, August 14, 2008

Frail Turkish democracy manages to survive crisis—barely

The fragile Turkish democracy has survived, but barely, yet another constitutional crisis. In the ever contentious ideological tug of war between the secularist Kemalists and the mildly religious ruling Justice and Development Party, or the AK, the government was given a reprieve by the all-powerful Constitutional Court. . . .

Unlike the Taliban of Afghanistan, the ayatollahs of Iran, or the religious politicians of Pakistan, Mr. Erdogan is a pragmatic man who understands his country’s secular traditions and has vowed to uphold them. But he will have to work hard to work with and win over skeptic secular elements in the parliament. This will be one way to keep the army from meddling in politics.

Turkey has an unprecedented opportunity to show the world that an Islamic party can govern according to democratic principles. With one foot in Asia and one in Europe and a solid Muslim past, Turkey, more than any other Muslim country, can prove that.

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