Turkey’s Vote Is a Win for Democracy

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Pelin Turgut examines for TIME the new political environment in the wake of Turkey’s elections on Sunday. Critics decry Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s perceived authoritarian leadership style, but his ruling Justice and Development Party, a pro-business and moderately Islamist party, won Sunday’s elections with 50% of the vote, though short of a sought-after two thirds “supermajority.” Turgut explores how this result signifies the maturation of the Turkish political system, and how it bodes well for Erdogan’s proposed new constitution. She writes:

A new constitution is at the top on Erdogan’s list of priorities; most Turks want to replace the current document which was drafted after a 1980 military coup because, among other things, it fails to account for other ethnicities such as the Kurds and enshrines a highly centralized state with limited individual rights. He had suggested he would seek changes in the constitution to create a more greatly empowered presidential system, a prospect which alarmed critics who like to compare him to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

In his victory speech on Sunday night, Erdogan spoke of humility and promised to work with his political rivals. “The people gave us a message to build the new constitution through consensus and negotiation,” said the prime minister. “We will be seeking consensus with the main opposition, the opposition, parties outside of parliament, the media, NGOs, with academics, with anyone who has something to say.”Under Erdogan, the military -once a powerful broker in Turkish politics- has lost much of its hold and now rarely comment publicly on political issues.

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