Turquía es un país de contrastes: constitucionalmente es un estado laico en el que el ejército es el guardián de la laicidad instituida por Ataturk, y sin embargo es una nación gobernada por un partido islamista que trata de implementar políticas de cierto corte islamista. El evidente choque de trenes produce conflictos, siendo el que a continuación describe magistralmente The Economist, la última fricción entre esas “dos almas turcas”:
“BY THE slimmest of margins,
Six of the 11 constitutional court’s judges had, in fact, voted to shut down the party. But to pass such a measure required the support of seven judges, so the court settled on the minority view only to impose a fine. This is expected to be the loss of half of AK’s state funding, which amounted to 47 million Turkish lira ($40m) last year.
The verdict should help to end the political upheaval that has gripped Turkey since March, when the country’s chief prosecutor asked the court to bar the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan; the president, Abdullah Gul; and scores of other named officials from politics for five years. They were accused of undermining the secular republic created by Kemal Ataturk 85 years ago out of the ruins of the
To many, the prosecution was an attempt at “a judicial coup”—arguably the most serious assault on
The army’s hand has been apparent in the latest manoeuvring against AK. But this time
That said, the court’s decision is not an outright victory for AK, despite its supporters’ excited chants of “we will continue”. Ten of the constitutional court’s judges agreed that the party was guilty of anti-secular activity; they disagreed only on the punishment.
The verdict should be seen as a stern warning to the party not to push its divisive religious agenda. Earlier this year the party forced through a law allowing girls to wear the Islamic headscarf at university, which was later struck down by the constitutional court.
It will take some time for the country fully to absorb the meaning of this week’s verdict. Until recently it seemed virtually certain that the court would rule against AK. But opinion began to shift over the past month as the potentially disastrous effects of a ban finally seemed to sink in among those pushing for it.
The European Commission had threatened to suspend
Some believe the judges’ change of heart may be linked to another, equally sensational, case that has been launched against the so-called Ergenekon conspirators. Prosecutors in Istanbul claim to have uncovered a plot by a group of ultranationalists—among them retired generals, convicted murderers, pro-secular journalists and academics—to overthrow AK, which draws its support from a rising class of pious Turks and frightens many secular ones. Some 80 alleged conspirators have been arrested. Their purported plan was to incite chaos through a string of assassinations and bomb attacks designed to provoke the army to intervene.
The biggest reason for the court’s decision may be rooted in hard parliamentary arithmetic. Even if AK had been shut down and its leading members banned, some 300 of its deputies would have retained their seats as independents, regrouped under a new name and formed a new government alone. Recent opinion polls consistently suggest that AK retains a big lead over its secular rivals.
Hopes within pro-secular circles that the threat of closure would prompt mass defections from the party never materialised. “The secularists appear to have finally grasped that the only way to get rid of the AK is at the ballot box,” notes a European diplomat. If so, that is a huge step forward for Turkish democracy”.