Newly Empowered AK Party Could Get EU Accession Back on Track

Posted on 17 June 2011

Now nearly one week past the Turkish election and not a peep of controversy or complaint at the result, we can safely say that the election was a success, especially given that 87% of the voting public turned out and cast their vote.

Prime Minister Erdogan of the Justice and Development party became the first Turkish leader to win three elections in a row, and the first to increase his party’s majority in each successive victory. This time, the AK Party won 49.9% of the votes, giving them 326 seats in a 550 seat parliament.

Erdogan wanted 330 seats to give him what’s called a super-majority. This would have allowed him to pass constitutional amendments without support from the opposition, amendments promised in the Constitutional Reform Bill passed by a referendum last year. As it is Erdogan will need little support, and we should see the amendments come to pass. The reforms are important to Erdogan because they would almost certainly put Turkey back on track towards EU accession, or certainly see negotiations restart.

Speaking of which, the Friends of Turkey — an informal parliamentary friendship group in the European Parliament, congratulated the AK Party on its victory, and said that the people had voted for stability and economic growth. Chairman of the group and former Slovenian Prime Minister Alojz Peterle said:

“I hope this new legislative period will bring a new impetus to EU-Turkey relations. The next big step towards Europeanization and Democratization is fostering a civil, modern and individual oriented constitution, which guarantees all fundamental rights and freedoms for every single citizen of Turkey irrespective of her/his ethnic, religious or cultural identity.”

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