Turkish democracy 'firmly established': deputy PM

14th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Tuesday the AKP's thumping general election victory spelled the end of the coup era and was a mandate for the country to become a fully-fledged democracy.

The third straight term won by the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) would be seen as an important milestone in the history of Turkey's democracy, wrote Arinc in an article for British newspaper The Guardian.

The AKP's rising share of the vote "shows that democracy and democratic institutions in Turkey are firmly established," he argued.

"Turkey has now left the coup era behind."

The AKP's third term "is a historic opportunity for Turkey to be a constitutional state with a fully-fledged, advanced democracy -- a prerequisite for EU membership," he wrote.

The AKP's critics have pointed to the fact that dozens of journalists are in jail.

They have also sounded the alarm at creeping restrictions on the Internet, as well as an unprecedented outbreak of compromising wiretaps and videos targeting opposition figures.

But Arinc said there had been "unfair and unfounded criticisms" of the Turkish government over press freedoms.

Claims that Ankara had suppressed dissident voices amounted to "twisting reality", he wrote.

The AKP wants to overhaul the current constitution, the legacy of a 1980 military coup.

"A constitution that protects the individual rather than the state, and promotes freedom and democracy rather than security, is a necessity for the 21st century," he argued.

"It is our pledge to the Turkish people and the world that a new constitution will usher in a new era for a fully functioning democracy in Turkey," he added.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also sought to allay fears among his critics, vowing Monday to seek compromise with the opposition.

The AKP won 49.9 percent of the vote in Sunday's polls, according to unofficial results.

It represented its best ever electoral performance yet -- the first time any party has won a third straight term in power in Turkey while improving its support.

But the party fell four seats short of the parliamentary majority it needed to be able to overhaul the constitution without the support of other parties.

© 2011 AFP

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