The ruling party in Turkey won parliamentary elections by a wide margin. A former State Department official and a Euro-Asian expert discuss what the election means for Turkey and the United States.
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Turkey's military has long acted as a guarantor of the predominantly Muslim country's secular constitution. The army has deposed four governments it saw as infringing on the rigid separation of mosque and state, and did so as recently as 1997.
But yesterday's parliamentary election was a sweeping victory for the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Prime Minister, Turkey (through translator):
After this period and after the reformation of the new parliament, I believe that we will take the most progressive steps for our country, our nation, and the Turkish democracy.
The elections came about after an April confrontation between the prime minister and the secular elite and military, after Erdogan tried to push through parliament his choice for Turkish president. Erdogan picked foreign minister Abdullah Gul, whose wife wears the Muslim headscarf. A show of piety to some was seen as a fundamental and fundamentalist threat by others to Turkey's secular tradition.
SABAHATTIN KARA, Turkish Citizen (through translator):
The president's wife's head must be uncovered for sure. We are not ruled by Sharia law; we are not a backward state.
HANIFE UZUM, Turkish Citizen (through translator):
If someone whose wife is uncovered can be president, than someone whose wife is covered can also be president. It is a democracy.