To assess Turkey’s election results, euronews talked to prominent Turkish journalist Mehmet Ali Birand, by satellite link with Istanbul.
Gizem Adal, euronews: Mr. Birand, this is the first time since Turkey adopted a multi-party system in 1946 that a party has increased its share of the vote and come to power for a third time. How has the AK Party achieved this?
Mehmet Ali Birand: It is very simple, they won the elections not with ideology but through a proven record of service. They have dealt with health problems and they gave more importance to the money people can keep in their pockets.
When they said what they intended to do, they didn’t come up with abstract things but with ambitious projects. All of this created a sense in society that people could prosper with this government. That’s very important.
Till now, there was a lot of discussion over what the military said and how badly we felt about it, and the veil debate.
Now the public has had enough of ideological debate, and they want services. However much we might criticise him, the Prime Minister has won the elections, the AK Party has won. And so far their track record is something we have never seen before.
euronews: Do you think Turkey can make a new civil constitution with these results?
Birand: Definitely. Being afraid of a sharia state is over now. That will no longer satisfy Turkish society. It wants a new period now, a new start, and this start can be made.
But there is only one condition for this: first of all, the Prime Minister and the whole AK Party has to implement the saying: ‘Sultan, do not be proud, for God is bigger than you.’
They also have to implement change well. If they can do this, I mean if they can be modest — as the Prime Minister has also said, “I am going to be modest, I will not be proud” — then they can lead Turkey to excellence, but otherwise we will start eating each other again.
Turkey is entering a new period, that’s for sure. The new president of Turkey now is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
A new constitution is going to be prepared, and although it will not be as everyone wants, the new constitution will be more democratic; the expectations of the military are dead.
euronews: How will the results of this election affect Turkish foreign policy, especially in the Middle East?
Birand: It will not affect Turkish foreign policy much. Actually Turkish foreign policy doesn’t know where it is heading, because the Middle East doesn’t know where it is heading either.
We only know that the process for European Union membership is continuing. If you set up a ministry for European affairs, you don’t give up on the EU. Turkey will not give up on the EU even though the EU is pushing Turkey to give up. Turkey will not give up. The process of Turkish entry into the EU might take a little bit longer, that’s not really important.
That’s the first point. Secondly, Turkey will not be able to create a new foreign policy before the Middle East settles down, because both in Syria and Egypt the situation is not clear: it is slippery.
That’s why I think it is better to continue with the former policies.”
euronews: Mr. Birand, thank you for your insights on this historical election. Now scrutiny turns to the civil constitution, which will be Prime Minister Erdoğan’s next test.