Turkey’s election result is a tribute to its vibrant democracy. But there are hard political and economic tests to come.
Written by Dimitar Bechev
At the peak of the protests of May-June 2013 in Turkey, spurred by plans to transform Gezi park in central Istanbul, the country’s then president, Abdullah Gül, made a statement that would go down in political folklore: “Democracy does not consist only of the ballot-box” (“Demokrasi sandıktan ibaret değildir“). He had a point: a democracy worthy of the name is also about other things – the rights of minorities, freedom of speech and association, the rule of law, transparency and accountability – all of them in scarce supply in Turkey, both historically and in more recent days.
Yet, the parliamentary polls on 7 June 2015 are also a strong reminder that the ballot-box can actually be the most robust safeguard of democratic governance. Free and fair elections alone may not suffice. But when a polity, which has experienced multi-party democracy for over half a century, casts its vote, it can help put back on track a process of political transformation gone astray.