November 5, 2002
The Turkish military said that it would support the electoral victory of the Justice and Development Party (AK). Heres the key quote, from the chief of staff General Hilmi Ozkok: We had a very democratic, incident-free election. The outcome is the will of our people and I can only respect it." The Turk Army is tasked with protecting the secular nature of the Turkish republic. Since 1960, the military has carried out three coups, all in the name of protecting the state. The military toppled Turkeys first Islamist-led government five years ago when the militarys senior officers concluded the Islamists were getting too extreme. The AK has styled itself as a center-right party and says it supports Turkey's secular state. AK party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he will follow pro-western policies. Interestingly enough, Erdogan cannot be prime minister since he has a felony conviction. He was convicted for "inciting religious hatred."
On November 3 the AK won a major political victory, taking an absolute majority in the Turkish parliament. AK got 34.2 percent which unofficial tallies said turned into 363 of the 550 seats in the unicameral parliament. The Kemalist (and intensely secular) Republican People's Party (CHP), won 19.3 percent of the vote (178 seats). Unofficially, 79 percent(yes, 79 percent) of Turkeys 41.5 million eligible voters participated in the election. The Kurdish Democratic Peoples Party (DEHAP) got 6.2 percent of the vote. The hard right National Action Party (MHP) got 8.3 percent. The center-right True Path Party (DYP) got 9.5. percent. All are below the ten percent threshold required to obtain parliamentary seats. (Austin Bay)