Turkey Breathes Easier

Turkey was awash in rumors yesterday, as news leaked of a secret meeting last Sunday between President Abdullah Gul and PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the home of an AKP lawmaker. The unprecedented meeting provoked speculation that the two had been tipped off to an unfavorable Supreme Court ruling and were planning the AKP’s response.

Instead, the Court announced today that the ruling AKP party narrowly survived a case that could have resulted in it being closed and its prominent members (including PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan) banned from holding office. Significantly, the Court actually voted in favor of closure, six to five, but this kind of verdict requires a super-majority of seven to pass. So instead the AKP will lose half of its government funding from last year in what amounts to a very stern warning.

Today’s Zaman characterized the case as “. . . as much a power struggle between two competing elites for control of key institutions as an argument over whether modern Turkey’s strict founding principles are out of date.” Which means that this battle is over, but the war will in all likelihood continue.