March 02, 2003


TALKIN' TURKEY: I've Googled for hours, and I have no idea what this actually means. I suspect that no one who can't read Turkish media has any idea, either. Here's what I have learned:

The Turkish parliament has, for the first time since 1948, been basically two-party since the 2002 election. Of the 550 members, 363 are members of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which was reconstituted from outlawed Islamist parties with a broader, more watered-down ideology. The Republican People's Party (CHP)-- a secular center-left party, which was founded by Kemal Attaturk and which moved somewhat to the left after some party reshuffling in the 90s, holds 178 seats. There are 9 independents-- though since my understanding is that the system is one of proportional representation for parties that clear 10 percent of the vote, I'm not sure how these independents were elected.

The resolution to allow US troops fell short of an absolute majority with 264 in favor, 251 opposed, and 19 abstaining. Astute readers will note that this only adds up to 534. I'm guessing that 16 MPs weren't present at all, though the news reports don't say.

They also don't say what the break-down in the vote is. CHP registered the procedural complaint which lead to the nullification of the affirmative vote (because the absolute majority was not reached), so my guess is that CHP is largely anti-war and AKP is split, but again, the news reports don't say.

So, without knowing which parties had members voting various ways, which abstained, and which were or weren't present, it's impossible to guess whether this resolution will pass in a few days or not. Anyone who pretends to know this without having this information is not to be trusted.

Posted by John Tabin at March 2, 2003 01:47 AM