Monday, October 31, 2011

The AK Party in Tunisia

Rachid Ghannouchi's Ennahda Party and Tunisia as well as observers who have been following the country are relieved. No one sees uncertainty and chaos on the horizon. Tunisia is moving from an extended period of dictatorship to democracy.
The people have the word. The Islamist Ennahda Party won a landslide election victory. However, despite the great number of seats it won, it is seeking to build a coalition. With its stance and statements, the party promises stability and peace.

The reason Tunisia and the world trust Ennahda rule is the example set by Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Ghannouchi said his party took the AK Party as a model; this is why observers see no uncertainty and chaos. This claim is not all a tool Ennahda is using to convince Tunisia and the world. This is the first time that an Islamist party is determining what it will do and how it will act by considering the AK Party.

The experience in Tunisia is important. The first flower of the Arab Spring blossomed there. The other Arab democracies, staring from Egypt, will follow Ennahda. The people, who have been living under the pressure of an administration, have now assumed power and responsibility; during this stage they will have to give up on many of their attitudes. Islamism will be cleansed of its radical aspects. It will generate moderate policies. Ghannouchi's Ennahda generates these messages in a convincing manner. Tunisia is a country of tourism. Beach culture, like in Turkey, is considered a strong indication of a secular regime. Ennahda assures that it will respect freedoms. More importantly, Muaz, Ghannouchi's son, says they will not subscribe to Islamic law in the field of economy, stating that they will pursue the policies of capitalist economies.

The AK Party is a reference in Tunisia for those seeking social peace and democratic stability. On the other hand, Turkey's AK Party experience illuminates the path of the new government in Tunisia. It is possible to better understand the value of the AK Party model in Tunisia by comparing it with the FIS experience in Algeria. FIS was accused of seeking to suspend democracy, and the Western world attempted to make sure it would not come to power despite a victory in elections. The bill was costly. The longstanding violence and illegalities in Algeria were the result of attempts to prevent FIS from exercising its right to rule the country.

The only reason Ennahda did not receive the treatment FIS once did in Algeria in 1989 is the AK Party model. It became successful because it developed within democracy and became known to world public opinion. The AK Party's ability to reduce the influence of the military guardianship and expand the sphere of liberties and rights has proven an unknown side of Islamism. The Arab countries getting rid of dicta regimes are now able to prove that secularism cannot be protected under dictatorships if they follow the path of the AK Party.

Democracy is the best antidote to radicalism. Social opposition turns into political radicalism when it is not allowed to express itself. In this case, pressure placed on society turns into an excuse to undermine political radicalism.

Tunisia will offer a richer experience to other Arab countries by relying on the AK Party's experience; this means the Arab Spring will turn into a season of Arab democracies.

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