My friend Joseph Leitmann sent me his thoughts on the Turkish election results (Joseph has lived in Turkey and has published at least one academic paper on Turkish foreign policy)
It will be extremely interesting to find out how "moderate" these Islamists will behave once in power since they won't have any real opposition...even for changing the Constitution! They control Parliament, and they control it fully: 362 seats vs. the CHP's 179 (the only other party to cross the 10% minimum to be represented in Parliament). Only those two parties will be represented.
I don't expect this government to last more than a year. The military simply HATES having an Islamist telling them how to play with their toys. Besides, while the previous Islamist-led government existed, Turkey was moved closer to the West by signing economic agreements with Europe and the US and signing my babies: the Turkish-Israeli defense cooperation agreements. The then PM, Erbakan, wasn't even consulted in either negotiations and was only told by the military and the pro-West establishment where to sign the documents! So, while the military continues to be declared by the Turkish Constitution "the guardians of Secularism" it doesn't matter what extremist/radical/Islamist is in power, nothing will be changed in the only Muslim democracy in the region.
The major factor, having seen it first hand, in the victory achieved by the Islamists is really not based on religious aspects. Over the past decade, the Islamists have controlled most of the municipal governments across Anatolia and have done a very efficient job at providing all the necessary services for urban and rural areas, especially in the political capital--Ankara-- and the economic and cultural capital--Istanbul. Also, they promised "everything" to "everybody": jobs, meat, bread, etc. Populism and economic crisis are not a good match for a developing country, but that seems to be the winning formula this year: Lula in Brazil.
Now, what will be fascinating is to see the extent to which the military wishes to impose its power over the new government: the new governing party's leader, Erdogan (former mayor of greater Istanbul [equivalent to the County of Istanbul]), is accused of "again" inciting religious hatred and could end of in jail. Also, one of the country's 4 supreme courts (the Court of Cassation) is going to start hearing a case against the AKP, the new governing party, and could move to dissolve it. So, we could end up with a scenario were the governing party is dissolved and its leader sent to jail. That is politics a la Turkiye!
Some news and commentary from Turkey's only newspaper in English: