The elections in Turkey mark a revolution. When Iran’s revolution happened and
the Islamists took over in 1979, everyone knew it. In contrast, Turkey’s
revolution has been a stealth operation. It has succeeded brilliantly, while
Western governments have failed shockingly to understand what’s going
Now we are at a turning point – an event every bit as significant as
the revolutions in Iran and Egypt. Of course, it will take time, but now Turkey
is set on a path that is ending the republic established by Kemal Ataturk in the
1920s. The Turkey of secularism and Western orientation is finished. The Turkey
that belongs to an alliance of radical Islamists abroad and at home has been
Here are the election numbers: The stealth Islamist party,
Justice and Development (AKP), received almost exactly 50 percent of the
Under the Turkish system, this will give it 325 members of
parliament, or about 60% of the seats.
On the opposition side, the social
democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) got about 26% of the vote and 135
seats. The right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) took 13%, giving it 54
There are also 36 independents, all of them Kurdish
Eleven parties didn’t make the minimum 10% barrier (they
received only about 1% or less each).
The AKP won 363 seats with a bit
over 34% of the vote in 2002; 341 seats with 46.58% of the vote in 2007; and 325
seats with almost 50% of the vote in 2011.
IN STATISTICAL terms, the AKP
lost six MPs despite getting five million more votes, the MHP lost 18 MPs
despite tallying half a million more votes, while the CHP gained 33 seats while
adding 3.5 million votes. On paper, then, while the AKP stays in power, it’s
slightly weaker than before.
But the outcome is nonetheless
overwhelmingly bad. As you can see above, the AKP’s percentage of voters keeps
rising. Most of the people who back the party don’t want an Islamist regime, and
don’t think of the AKP in those terms. It rather seems to them to be a strong
nationalist party respecting religious tradition that is making Turkey an
important international power and is doing a good job on the economy.
AKP got almost – remember that, almost – everything it wanted. It increased
voter support more than any other party, and will be in power for four – and
perhaps many more – years, infiltrating institutions, producing a new
constitution, intimidating opponents, altering Turkish foreign policy, and
shifting public opinion against Americans and Jews to a larger
The only point on which the AKP seemingly fell short is that it
didn’t get the two-thirds of parliament needed to pretty much write Turkey’s new
constitution any way it wanted.
But so what? Deals with a few willing
parliamentarians from other parties could provide the five additional votes
needed for submitting an AKP-authored constitution to a referendum. The
government can offer individuals a lot, including what I will delicately call
personal benefits for their support. And given the way the parliamentary
elections went, the AKP can almost certainly win that referendum.
short, the AKP is entrenched in power, and can now proceed with the fundamental
transformation of Turkey.
THE AKP has become famous for the subtlety of
its Islamism, disguising itself as a “center-right” reform party. Some people in
the Arab world are starting to talk about this as a model. Notably, the Muslim
Brotherhood in Egypt is fascinated by the strategy. Yet as the Islamist party
gains more and more power and support – Turkey has demonstrated this – it
becomes more ambitious, daring and extreme.
This would include:
constitution that would take the country far down the road to a more Islamist
• A more presidential style of government, empowering the
mercurial (a nice word for personally unstable and frighteningly arrogant) Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to become chief executive.
• A government
that can infiltrate, take over and transform the remaining hold-out
institutions, especially the armed forces and courts, along with the remainder
of the media that has not yet been bought up or intimidated by the Islamists • A
government whose policy is to align with Islamists like Iran, Syria (not
Islamist but part of the Tehran-led alliance), Hamas, Hezbollah and perhaps the
• A government against US and Western
• A government that, to put it bluntly, hates Israel, and many
of whose members hate Jews.
• For Israel, the end of any dreams of
restoring the alliance with Turkey, or even normal diplomatic
This is the regime that sponsored the first Gaza flotilla and
is now behind the second. From an Israeli perspective, Turkey’s government is
now on the side of our enemies.
It is hard to state these unpleasant
realities, and many will not want to face them. There will be no shortage of
soothing analyses and encouraging talk about Turkish democracy succeeding,
moderate Muslim politics, and how “great” it is that the army’s political power
Don’t be fooled.
This is a disastrous day for the
United States and Europe, as well as for the prospects of stability and peace in
the Middle East. And it isn’t great news for the relatively moderate Arab states
It is the end of the republic as established by Ataturk in the
1920s and modified into a multi-party democracy in the 1950s.
many people in the West actually appreciate what’s happening? How many
journalists will celebrate the election as a victory for democracy? Lenin once
reportedly remarked that he would get the capitalists to sell him the rope with
which to hang them.
The AKP has gotten the West to provide that rope as a
gift.The writer is director of the Global Research in International
Affairs Center (www.gloria-center.org) and editor of Middle East Review of
International Affairs (MERIA) Journal and Turkish Studies. He blogs at