Turkey's 2007 Elections: Crisis of Identity and Power [August 6, 2007]   [open pdf - 138KB]

"The effort of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to elect one of its own to be president of the Republic provoked a crisis. The nominee, the otherwise respected Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, has roots in Turkey's Islamist movement and his wife wears a head scarf, which some secularists consider a symbol of both Islamism and backwardness. Moreover, because AKP already controls the prime ministry and parliament, it was argued that the balance of political power would be disturbed if the party also assumed the presidency. The opposition engaged in mass demonstrations, boycotted the first round of the vote for president in parliament, and petitioned the Constitutional Court to annul the vote, while the General Staff of the armed forces warned that the military would act if 'needs be' as the defender of secularism. After the Court invalidated the vote, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called early national elections and proposed a package of constitutional amendments, including one for the direct election of president. […] Terrorism was a major issue in the campaign, and tensions between Turkey and the United States continue over U.S. inaction against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish terrorist group harbored in northern Iraq. AKP's views on this issue are somewhat more considered than the nationalist opposition parties in parliament. Prime Minister Erdogan is likely to pursue a diplomatic approach at first, but the possibility of a Turkish military incursion into Iraq with attendant consequences for U.S. policy and Iraqi stability persists. This report will be updated as developments warrant."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL34039
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