The challenges in Turkey’s immediate vicinity show that had the Constitutional Court shut down the ruling party, Turkey would have been dragged into complete chaos. In addition to the state of frailty that our foreign policy would experience, our disrupted political stability would negatively affect the economy. This would deal the heaviest blow to the masses in the low-income bracket. Moreover, the Ergenekon case might be whitewashed, while the bureaucratic elites might gain opportunities for new moves against civilian authority. Politicians would be placed in the spotlight, and with a desire to regain heydays past, the media bosses would try to secure the backing of power sources to rule the country. Thank God none of the foregoing happened.
The AK Party is not like the rightist governments of the past. This party consists of members acting in harmony with each other, relying on one another, who have known each other for a long time and are bound to each other by a sense of teamwork. This government is not like the coalition governments of the former center-right or center parties, maimed by bargaining that got nowhere. More people than those who voted for it seek the continuation of this government, maybe for the sake of stability. It is my personal conviction that this will be confirmed by the results of the upcoming local elections.
As for the change in the minds of religious people, when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on a visit to Spain, had been brought to the agenda, I heard many people making the comment “This might not be a correct move to make.” With the support hastily given by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the headscarf issue was introduced to Parliament as a package separate from radical constitutional amendments, and there was no time to give louder voice to this not-a-correct-move criticism. We all had been mesmerized by the possibility of a solution to this long-standing problem and concluded that everyone must give support to this move.
Now, after the decision by the Constitutional Court, this mesmerized mood has begun to disappear. Professor Hayrettin Karaman, one of the true opinion leaders of this country, who is considerably influential on the religiously conscientious, particularly those coming from imam-hatip schools, recently wrote an important article in Yeni Şafak. “Democrats and the people who love this country note that the country has been saved from disaster, and they are similarly giving advice to the government as to what it should do in the new term,” he wrote.
The second of four pieces of advice with which Karaman agrees is as follows: “Even if it was done with good intentions, and even if the majority of the nation supports such a change, it was wrong to accelerate the headscarf issue without treating it within large-scale constitutional amendments. The government should not repeat such errors and [should] refrain from statements, acts and moves that would provide opportunity to the contentious opposition that tends to produce tensions. The issues that have been made complicated -- due to the opposition’s attitude -- such as the headscarf, the coefficients applicable in the university entrance exams [and] the course on religious information should be frozen until they are solved through general normalization.” (Aug. 3, 2008). This is a golden piece of advice which tells us that we should solve the fundamental problems in this country through social consensus. Karaman’s words express sincerely that the intention of the religious is nothing but to ensure that a solution is found to all social problems.
This does not imply that they abandon their demands for furthering individual rights and freedoms and for having a more mature and advanced democracy. Rather, we reiterate the need for the process of normalization that will be realized through common sense and wisdom and which will be reinforced by the EU membership process.