Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Victory for democracy

After the landslide victory for the AK Parti last month, foreign minister Abdullah Gul has now been chosen as the country's president, despite his wife's refusal to renounce her headscarf. Bronwen Maddox is right to see the result as a 'victory for democracy' in that it accurately reflects the views of most Turks. The army predictably boycotted the ceremony, but better they stayed in barracks than tried a repetition of their 1997 coup. Gul has pledged to uphold the secular traditions of Ataturk as the new President, but if he is allowed to stay in office, his elevation will represent a new tolerance in Turkey and show more clearly than countries like Indonesia and Malaysia that democracy and Islam are wholly compatible. Gordon Brown should now press Turkey's case in Europe as vigorously as Tony Blair did.

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