July 23, 2007

Democracy in the Middle East

I know that this will come as a shock to people who've listened to the steady drumbeat of insistence that Israel was the only democracy in the Middle East before the US came riding to the rescue of the Iraqis, but Turkey just finished their national elections. Wild ...

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Turkey's benchmark stock index surged to a record and bonds and the lira gained after voters re-elected Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, strengthening his mandate to pursue European Union talks, asset sales and budget discipline.

... Turkish assets have been among the world's best performers this year on expectations that a victory for Erdogan would extend a record 21 consecutive quarters of economic growth that have helped double average income to $5,500, creating a boom in demand for loans and consumer goods. Erdogan won entry talks from the EU in 2005, which has helped fuel investor optimism. ...

PM Erdogan will have to bargain with other political parties and factions to get a consensus presidential candidate through parliament, but has indicated that he's committed to secular, democratic government. Erdogan, please note, is a member of the country's Islamist party. Even if he doesn't seem very scary.

Just, you know, drawing all that to your attention. Does Turkey have problems? Oh yes, yes they do. Though with the first Kurds in parliament in years and following Erdogan's AK Party reaching out to Kurds as a voting bloc, this election offers some encouraging signs that they might be able to resolve those problems through peaceful means.

Posted by natasha at July 23, 2007 06:55 AM | International | Technorati links |