Legislative elections in Turkey will be held in mid-June 2011. In this article Didier Billion and Bastien Alex present the political context, the parties in contention and the main issues involved. They remind us of the process of democratization that has been underway since the AKP (“Justice and Development Party”, the majority Islamic party since 2002) has been in power, against a background of polarizing tensions with the army (which has traditionally underpinned secularism and the Kemalist principles on which the Turkish republic has been based since its creation in 1923). They stress also the weakening of the political role of the military and the deep rootedness of the AKP in Turkish society. And, in spite of the substantial debates driving the electoral campaign (on constitutional reform or the question of membership of the European Union, for example), June’s ballot should, barring surprises, end with the AKP being re-elected as the Turkish government.
It remains to be seen, among other things, whether, on the one hand – given something of a move to the radical right in its discourse and certain actions that pose questions about the respect for human rights within the country – the AKP will continue the process it has initiated for meeting European demands for democratization and, on the other, the Turks will maintain their resolve to join a European Union that is currently trying their patience in the “antechamber” to accession.