In fact, his decades-long political career was frequently interrupted by outside forces, including the military, but he never surrendered to obstacles before him and remained political until his last days in his hospital room. Although he was harshly criticized many times for his policies, almost all analysts in Turkey agree that Erbakan was a leading political figure who shaped politics in Turkey over the past 40 years.
Stating that there were many aspects of the National View movement that he criticized, Star daily columnist Mustafa Akyol, however, underlines that this movement contributed a lot to Turkish democracy. “The ideology of Islamism, which turned into a revolutionary movement in other Muslim countries and which was even diverted to an armed struggle, became a part of the democratic system with the Erbakan movement,” Akyol says. Noting that the “dynamics for change” that were triggered by this inclusion of democracy created a vessel within the National View that even surpassed it, he says the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was born in this way. “Those who say that he [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] would not be what he is today without Erbakan are right from this perspective,” he says.
Milliyet daily columnist Taha Akyol also agrees and says Erbakan has left behind a legacy that is worthy of praise. “First of all, Erbakan was certainly a gentleman. He always had a smiling face. I do not remember any infuriating or rude behavior of his. This trait is important not only for his personality but also for preventing pro-Islamic politics from turning into a militant movement,” he says. Akyol stresses that one significant contribution Erbakan made to Turkish politics was his success in keeping rising Islamism within the parliamentary system. “While the rise of Islamic movements in the Muslim world also meant radicalism, the National View remained within democracy in Turkey,” Akyol notes.
Ahmet Turan Alkan from the Zaman daily also underscores that he never supported Erbakan’s movement, but says his contributions to Turkey are undeniable. “His personal story has ended, but the concepts he introduced to Turkish politics and the cadres he trained are still alive. He was the most influential leader to leave a mark on Turkey in the past 50 years,” he says.