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From the January 2003 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 50, No. 01)

Viewpoints

An Islamic Party Wins Turkish Elections

Views from Istanbul, Kampala, Vienna, Belgrade, Milan, Warsaw, Oslo, Dhaka, Munich, Tirana, Beijing, Kolkata, Sydney, Bucharest, and Jakarta

Erdogan
Turkey's New Power Broker Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party now holds a majority in Parliament (Photo: AFP).
Istanbul Aksam (independent), Nov. 4: The Turkish voters have decided to realize change, not by rioting on the streets or by looting or arson, but instead by going to the polls. From now on, it is everybody’s duty to respect the outcome of the elections and to comply with the rules of democracy.

Kampala New Vision (government owned), Nov. 5: Turkey is evolving in a new direction where religion may mingle with politics. The army must accept this. If democracy is stifled, fanaticism can erupt. All the indications are that the AKP [Justice and Development Party] is a moderate centrist party.

Vienna Die Presse (conservative), Nov. 4: No protest vote could have been clearer. The Turks did nothing less on Sunday than completely reduce the old political system in their country to rubble.

Belgrade Politika (pro-government), Nov. 6: The triumph of the winners on the basis of Islam does not mean that Turkey will turn toward the way of Iran’s ayatollahs.
Borivoje Erdeljan

Milan Corriere della Sera (centrist), Nov. 4: The AKP has won the election with a big majority....But it would be reckless to think that the secular forces have been defeated....The reality is that the need for a change has won.
Antonio Ferrari

Warsaw Tygodnik Powszechny (liberal Catholic weekly), Nov. 10: Washington is pressing the [European] Union to accept Turkey’s membership. ...Sept.11, without question, has made Turkey’s membership more remote. The latest earthquake in Turkey will solidify this stand.

Oslo Aftenposten (conservative), Nov. 5: The challenge is whether the European Union, in which Christian Democratic parties play a central role, will open itself to an Islamic member where the state is secular but where religion surfaces swiftly.

Dhaka Dainik Ittefaq (pro-government), Nov. 8: [The AKP’s] leader has declared that Turkey will continue in its path of moving toward the Western world....It will also strengthen its ties with the other Muslim countries....Such a drastic change in Turkey’s attitude may give rise to conflicts with the United States.

Munich Süddeutsche Zeitung (centrist), Nov. 4: For the first time, a moderate Islamic party will govern with an absolute majority in Turkey. And in the opposition will be the social- democratic CHP..., which has painted this constellation of powers as the worst possible nightmare.
Christiane Schlötzer

Tirana Shekulli (centrist), Nov. 5: [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s party is really a political-religious party, but it doesn’t represent or voice radical Islam. The concern of Western diplomats and government officials is exaggerated....Would perhaps the concerned part of the West prefer secular dictators to democracies where only one of the political players shows a religious color?
Mustafa Nano

Beijing Global Times (weekly magazine of People’s Daily), Nov. 7: The United States and NATO were astonished to find that in Turkey’s political arena an unexpected “black horse” appeared....Though...Erdogan firmly holds the right to form a new government, he has a number of hard nuts to crack, because the AKP does not have close contact with the army or pro-Western financial groups.
Li Zhanjun

Kolkata The Statesman (independent), Nov. 10: What may be happening in Turkey now with the AKP’s victory is a kind of restoration of balance. That does not mean Turkey is turning its back on Europe....The AKP seems more a Muslim equivalent of Europe’s Christian Democratic parties...than akin to the Hezbollah.

Sydney The Sydney Morning Herald (centrist), Nov. 7: An even wider change from this election is possible if...it has brought to the fore a new kind of Muslim democrat in Turkey. That may have far-reaching consequences not only for Turkey in its evolution as a secular state, but also, by example, for other Muslim nations.

Bucharest Curentul (business), Nov. 5: For Europe, the recent result is a challenge. Some say that Europe must accept its own Muslim identity, something it has not done during the Bosnian conflict or the Kosovo war.

Jakarta Kompas (independent), Nov. 6: The recent election won by the AKP shows a major shift in Turkey’s politics. It appears Turks are no longer impressed by the old parties and politicians that dominated the political scene.

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