Turkey's ruling Islamist party wins elections, keeps power

Stories here and here.

At least, the stories describe the Justice and Development Party as “Islamic-based” and its main rivals, the Republican People’s Party and the [Party](]Nationalist Movement [or "Action) as “secularist.” OTOH, the WaPo account states:

So, while Islamism vs. secularism is a factor here, it’s not the only aspect, and the JDP clearly is not “Islamist” in the way the rulers of Iran are Islamist.

Anyway, what does this mean for Turkey’s future? And for its relations with other countries? And for the Kurds?

I’ve seen the whole situation framed more as “democracy vs. secularism”, though of course Islam and conservative viewpoints are an important factor. I don’t really know enough to say how fair a view that is though.

I can’t find any Kurdish separatist parties listed here – presumably they’re all banned. Which makes me wonder: Among the range of choices allowed them, how do the Turkish Kurds vote? (They can vote, I’m sure.)

What I’ve heard is that parties with less than 10% of the vote aren’t allowed to send deputies to Parliament. Therefore, Kurdish nationalists were running as independents in this election. I guess some of them were elected.

ETA: Here is the Fruits and Votes article on the election results.

The big Kurdish party is the Democratic Society Party (formerly the Democratic People’s Party), but like severus said, they ran as independents this time to get around the 10% threshhold.

The official view is that only about 7-8% of Turkey’s population is Kurdish, but other sources place the figure as high as 20%. See here.

Attaturk was a hell of a lot ahead of his time and as a result Turkeys national thinking is a lot more advanced then most middle eastern nations .

If the Islamists get out of hand there will be a military coup,not at the behest of the west but for themselves and they will get the backing of most of the population.

They are a very tough and honourable people, generous and straightforward in their dealings .

A few years ago I was arrested there and spent some time banged up with left wing journalists and editors and then as a complete contrast with right wing terrorists known as “The Grey Wolves”.

They are a people who from both ends of the political spectrum I admire greatly and with whom most I would literally trust with my life.

I get on very well with the Kurds also its sad that they hold so much enmity for each other.

It’s good news. The JDP is ‘Islamic’ but has won this election based on sound government policies and fiscal management. They aren’t out for the Shariah law here and are looking more at just allowing women to wear veils again. That the military has allowed the popular candidate to win despite their secular stand is taken as a sign of maturity by the EU…which’ll help come time to decide if Turkey gets in. Turkey has always walked a tightrope, secularize too long and you get an Ayatollah, allow an Islamic party in too early and you get Algeria. The party will give up power if voted out of office…the military will see to that.

I don’t think the Kurdish question has changed at all with an Islamic party in office.

What would change it, I wonder?

Things are never going to be satisfactorily quiet in that part of the world until Kurdistan, including Turkish Kurdistan, is independent.

The Turkish Kurds have a say in Parliament (9 Kurds currently represent their districts and have in the past been relied on a few times for a coalition gov’t), I’m not saying everythings perfect there, but the twin Kurdish governments in northern Iraq can’t stop separatists from launching attacks on Turkey from within their own country. Logic dictates that they want to stop it, it makes no sense for Kurds already managing a sort of fledgling homeland to start shit elsewere, they just can’t.

I’m actually optimistic for the Kurds future. I know Turkeys nervous about a northern Iraqi Kurdistan, but they also don’t want Shariah law and strife on their border either. If the Iraqi Kurds can convince the AK government they don’t want Turkish land, a Kurdistan is the perfect buffer. We already know Kurds can handle their shit internally, a few nutcases aside, and they aren’t a part of the civil war in the south which will keep north Iraq quiet.

But the Kurds DO want part of Turkey. And part of Iran too. They want what they consider to be their ‘homeland’. And neither the Turks nor the Iranians want a fledgling, oil rich, Kurdish state on their border. They know it will continue to harbour nationalistic ambitions and they know its mere existence will destabilize the loyalty of their own Kurdish population.

And the Kurds are Muslims. Sharia Law and all. As per Article 7 of the Constitution of Iraq the state religion is Islam. Sharia Law is one of the basis of the legal system, particularly in the personal area.

But northern Iraq isn’t where most of the oil is. And I know they want a part of Iran and Turkey, but right now they don’t even have an independent state, the Kurdish governments are viewing this as first things first. I do agree with you about the destabilizing nature of Kurdish minorities in Iran especially if a viable Kurdish state is ever established. However, perhaps a Kurdistan has become the lesser of two evils.

I read now I wasn’t clear enough about the Shariah law comment. Whether or not Islam is the state religion, the level of implementation and interpretation of Shariah law in the Kurdish zone is more ‘liberal’, no?

You are simply uninformed. If you don’t know about Kirkuk as a pivotal issue in Iraq maybe you need to do more research. Your own map shows it even. The key thing to look out for now is the November referendum on its status. The Kurds have been happily ethnic cleansing their way to expected victory there and have made it pretty clear them getting Kirkuk is a deal-breaker or maker.

Meanwhile, as previously posted, the USA is planning to ‘secretly’ help the Turks kill the PKK leadership, which will further inflame things.

The Kurds will be ‘okay’ as you put it, because they will fight for their independence. And they are helped by all the arms and training they receive while they pretend to be part of the Iraq Army.

Sharia Law is by definition illiberal and oppressive. At its very least harmful it is the thin end of the wedge, foot in the door for increasing oppression.

And the Kurds are very big on honour killing.

And Stoning

They might not be complete lunatics yet but the Turks won’t just sit and cross their fingers hoping the Kurds play nice.

Now you are the one that is misinformed. Sharia law is an ancient code of conduct for societies, it is still open to interpretation. It is the recent illiberal and oppressive regimes that have shaded this code into poor light. Sharia Law, like the Ten Commandments for Christianity, stands at the heart of Islam…are you saying you believe Islam to be illiberal and oppressive?

No, but like I was saying, a viable Kurdistan my be seen by Iran and Turkey as the lesser of two evils.

I am not misinformed. Have you read the Koran? Have you seen what happens in countries with Sharia Law components?

And yes - Islam is by its current nature illiberal and oppressive.

I make that judgment on Islam in action historically and contemporarily - not on whether you can somehow parse the illiberal words of the Koran and the various hadiths different sects use to interpret the guiding life of Mohammed - into something vaguely acceptable to western liberal society. It doesn’t matter, just like with Christianity, what the mumbo jumbo reads like. It’s what it’s like when put into practice.

As of this moment ‘liberal’ Islam is no more than people whistling in the dark. As far as I’m concerned there is an absolute and irreconcilable clash between liberalism and any form of ‘because God said so,’ no matter how much people stretch and reinterpret what God supposedly said.

Chapter 34 verse 4 - the ‘it’s cool to beat women under these circumstances’ verse is pretty hard to massage away although it’s nice people are trying.

And Santa Claus might exist. I suppose you could spin some implausible scenarios where the Turks might somehow accept a situation the avoidance of which has been central to their foreign and domestic security policies for decades but as things stand anything that smells of a Kurdish homeland is anathema to Turkey.

Turkish policy analysis

The Kurds maybe Muslims but they are not radical Islamists ,when Islamists entered the Kurds homelands before the current trouble to make converts they were booted out or dealt with according to the Kurds Ive spoken to anyway.

This is not quite accurate. Better to say that Islamism is not a dominant force in most of Kurdistan. The Islamic Movement of Kurdistan ( IMK ) got about 5% of the vote in the regional elections in the early nineties ( good enough for a very distant third place ) and is currently a minor participating member of the regional government.

And of course the more actively violent offshoot ( in part ) of the IMK is the infamous Ansar al-Islam, a vaguely al Qaeda aligned group that sheltered in a couple of Kurdish mountain valleys pre-invasion and was at times put forward as one of the justifications for invading Iraq ( never mind they were well outside SH’s zone of control ). It still appears to be lurking about in shadowy form, either by the original name or as the associated Ansar al-Sunnah ( which may be synonomous - these groups subdivide like bacteria and rename themselves just as frequently ).

Turkey is giving the Iraqi government one last chance to crush the PKK within its borders before Turkish troops go in.