Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Benin feels the pinch of Nigeria's economic woes

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Deutsche Bank shares recover after turbulent week

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Inside Aleppo: 'Feels like prison'

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The Legacy of Shimon Peres, The Battle of Aleppo (Part 1)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Trump-Clinton Debate, Colombia Peace Deal, Death of the BlackBerry (Part 2)

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Backstage at Paris Fashion Week

Read more

FASHION

Paris Fashion Week: Saint Laurent, Lanvin, present new designers

Read more

#THE 51%

Online and proud: Iranian women use social media in a campaign for equality

Read more

#TECH 24

Say hello to Pepper!

Read more

Europe

Referendum victory worries Turkey’s secularists

Text by Marc DAOU

Latest update : 2010-09-13

The “Yes” vote in Turkey’s constitutional referendum has strengthened the hand of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan – but worries the opposition who fear an assault on the country’s secular traditions.

The EU and the US have welcomed Turkey’s referendum on constitutional reform, passed by a convincing 57 percent - despite opposition concerns that the move will damage the country’s secular traditions.

Some of the reforms – presented as essential to Turkey’s democratic evolution and helping its ambitions to join the EU – limit the power of both the judiciary and the army.

Both these institutions have traditionally been the guarantors of secularism since the Turkish Republic was created by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923.

They have both been in open conflict with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has Islamist roots. Both have been at the forefront of opposition to the reforms. In 2008 the AKP narrowly escaped dissolution for anti-secular activities at the hands of the country’s Constitutional Court.

“Since taking office, Erdogan has sought to dilute the secular and nationalist establishment created by Ataturk, which in itself is an attack on the power of the army and the courts in Turkey,” Ariane Bonzon, a French journalist specialising in Turkey, tells FRANCE 24.

Hardly surprising, therefore, that both these bodies campaigned against the reforms, she says, questioning the reduction of their powers that in turn hands greater power to Erdogan.

‘Risk of Islamisation is low’

“The fear of abuse is legitimate because these reforms will allow power to be concentrated in one party,” explains Alican Tayla of French think tank IRIS.

“The AKP has the presidency, the government and the parliamentary majority, which now has the power to appoint its own judges.”

Tayla believes, however, that the “risk of Islamisation of the country is low, as the AKP is not inherently Islamic.

“The party became conservative, [economically] liberal and populist in order to stay in power, he tells FRANCE 24. “The opposition and some observers accuse the AKP of attempting to apply a secret agenda to Islamicise the country, but the text contains no specific measures on religion.”

For its part, the AKP denies any intention to dilute secularism, which has become a hallmark of the country’s political outlook in the decades since the end of the Ottoman Empire.

The AKP has been in power since 2002 and has won two general elections and two referendums.

Erdogan faces his next elections in 2011. Sunday’s big victory may even convince him to bring them forward.
 

Date created : 2010-09-13

  • TURKEY

    Voters back broad constitutional amendments

    Read more

  • TURKEY

    Military, judicial powers in the balance in referendum vote

    Read more

  • TURKEY

    Court annuls arrest warrants against army coup plotters

    Read more

COMMENT(S)