January 7, 2010
While Europeans partied this Christmas, on the Islamic side of the Bosphorus Turkish army personnel were busy undermining their country’s shaky democracy. According to The Economist, two Turkish Special Forces agents were arrested over a plot to assassinate deputy prime minister Bulet Arinc. For the first time in the country’s history, civilian authorities were able to raid the central command of the special forces, thanks to a new law adopted by parliament in 2009, making it possible to try army personnel in civilian courts.
In my previous postings and articles, I have labelled Turkey as “the country of the permanent coups d’etat“, one in which the army plays a bigger-than-normal role in public affairs and interferes with democratic processes, regularly attempting to topple elected leaders. Also according to The Economist, the military have been directly responsible for the demise of four elected governments since the 1960’s.
The new 2009 law, however, and the relative stability of Turkish politics under the Erdogan leadership have the potential to uproot such an unenviable tradition. If that happens, Turkish democracy might finally find the balance it has been lacking over the past half-century.Florian Pantazi