The court found that the AKP did not have a quorum in parliament when it attempted to elect Gul to the presidency last week. The judges did not comment on the fact that the secularist opposition party that lodged the petition had, in fact, engineered that shortfall by boycotting the first round. Nor did judges take note that on at least one previous occasion, in the 1980s, a President was elected without the same quorum the court deemed necessary in this instance. (At that time, no one challenged the result.) Still, the judgment has been accepted, and the AKP has called early elections in order to secure a new mandate. The new vote is expected to be held within two months. The party also said it would try to push through a constitutional amendment that would ensure that this kind of deadlock does not recur.
The election campaign will likely deepen the divisions over Turkey's political future that emerged following the Gul nomination. If, as some analysts fear, the campaign descends into fear-mongering about a looming Islamist threat, it could do lasting damage to an economy that has until now been performing extremely well. The Turkish army, which helped precipitate the crisis by issuing a widely condemned communique opposing the ruling party's choice for President, apparently hopes that Turkish voters will accept the generals' view that the pro-Islamic AKP poses a threat to Turkish society, and turn them out, or at least vote in a coalition that would force the AKP to share power. For its part, the ruling party expects to return with an enhanced majority and the full backing of a plurality of the Turkish people.
Both outcomes are possible, though analysts are now leaning toward an AKP win. That would leave the military, which has now openly declared its opposition , with the choice of backing down or sending tanks into the streets. "There will be no need for further intervention because democracy is working," retired General Riza Kucukoglu said in an interview. Each of those assertions is, unfortunately, open to question.