“So”, asked a colleague in Holland yesterday after Gül was elected president, “what’s the army going to do now?” “Well, not too much”, I replied. “What can they do?” “But”, said my colleague, “they are powerful aren’t they?” Yes, but now you could also say: they were powerful. These last few months the army itself has effectively contributed to making itself less powerful, writing warnings on the army website that they felt secularism was in danger and that they would protect the secular republic. But they didn’t act on it, and even more important: the Turks were not impressed. The army warnings may have led to AK Parti having to withdraw Gül’s earlier candidacy and organise early general elections, but in the end that only made AK Parti stronger. Of the people who cast a vote, almost half voted for AK Parti. So now what can the army do if they say they protect democracy? They can’t do anything. Democracy has spoken.
At that moment a car drove by my window. Five guys in it, and the car sounded like it would never get to where it was going. “Sorry,” I said to my colleague on the phone, “a heavy noisy vehicle is passing, I can’t hear you properly”. “Ah, tanks!”, was her quick reply. A joke, of course. I laughed, but at the same time thought: so thát’s how some people see Turkey. As if the army can take over any minute.