Friday, July 20, 2007

Turkish Elections Loom

Turkey is an important country because of the way it bridges Europe and the Middle East, this election may be an important bellwether.

Update: Erdogan's AK party has won control of the parliament.

Some see the ballot as a battle between Islam and secularism, others as a referendum on the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Or a contest between competing visions of Turkey - an open, more confident, more democratic place or an isolated Turkey locked in a siege mentality that sees the outside world as conspiring against it.

"This is an election between those who want more democracy and those who want less," says Egemen Bagis, an adviser to the prime minister....

"Freedom and democracy are being used against our country to weaken us. We need to stand alone and fulfil our potential. The national consciousness is awakening," claims Erol Gul, a leader of the MHP party of extreme nationalists, which looks likely to re-enter parliament tomorrow.

With the country highly polarised after months of showdown between the governing camp and the military, Soli Ozel, an Istanbul political scientist, says the stakes tomorrow are high. "This has worldwide implications," he said. At issue is whether Turkey can succeed in becoming "a secular, capitalist, democratic country with a Muslim population" enjoying greater liberties. |Election fever grips nation riven by great divide - Guardian|
If you aren't up on your Turkish politics, scroll down to the end of the article for a list of key players and their roles.

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