Abdullah Gül’s election as Turkey’s 11th president marks a watershed in the country’s history.
In July, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) – religiously conservative but economically liberal – won a landslide in parliamentary elections called after the military balked at seeing Gül become president. That victory, combined with Gül’s election, confirm the AKP’s emergence as a party of realignment, and that, despite an upsurge of xenophobic nationalism, Turks wanted to integrate with the European Union.
Last April, Gül’s candidacy brought a threat of a coup from the military, precipitating the recent elections. Thus, the electorate also made it clear that it no longer wanted the military involved in domestic politics, rejecting the generals’ warnings that the AKP would lead the country into the darkness of theocratic rule.