IN OTHER WORDS: Right choice

The impressive re-election victory scored by Turkey’s conservative Muslim ruling party is a tribute to the growing maturity of the country’s politics and an inspiration for the cause of democracy in the broader Muslim world. Voters rightly rejected the claim asserted by the traditional military-secular establishment that there is any fundamental incompatibility between democracy and Islam. Instead, they rewarded a party that has given the country its most competent and successful government in recent decades.

Since the Justice and Development Party (AK) came to power almost five years ago, its market-oriented policies have promoted strong economic growth. In its pursuit of EU membership, AK has also pushed through a series of legal reforms that have brought Turkish law closer to European standards. Those reforms have stalled in the face of opposition from generals and civilian nationalists and discouraging signals from the EU. The AK should use its victory to reinvigorate the drive for reforms. But it still must be careful not to provoke a military leadership that sees itself as the guardian of secular nationalism. The AK, in contrast, has broadened its support by moving away from its original, narrowly Islamic roots. It is still a visibly Muslim party, but it also a visibly democratic and tolerant party.