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Democracy In Turkey

Turkey’s Constitutional Court annulled a vote by the parliament to elect foreign minister Abdullah Gul as the country’s new president. Under Turkey’s political system, the parliament elects the president.

The Constitutional Court ruled that the parliament lacked the necessary quorum to hold the presidential election. Only three-hundred-sixty-one of the parliament’s five-hundred-fifty members were present when the vote was taken, due to a boycott led by the opposition Republican People’s Party. Turkey’s prime minister Tayyip Erdogan is calling for parliamentary elections in June to help resolve the issue.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, in support of secular democracy. Demonstrators chanted "no Sharia, no coup," reflecting their commitment to secularism and to follow constitutional processes in elections. Ninety-nine percent of Turkey's population is Muslim, and Turkey has been a secular republic since 1923.

U.S. State Department press spokesman Sean McCormack says Turkey’s election is a matter for the Turkish people to decide in accordance with the law:

"We have faith in Turkey’s constitutional processes. We have faith in Turkish secular democracy and we are confident that the political questions that arise concerning the vote and the election of the next Turkish president will be worked out within the confines of Turkish law and the Turkish constitution.”

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says Turkey has a tradition of democracy and the U.S. encourages all Turkish citizens “to participate in Turkey’s democracy according to their constitution and laws.”