The protests in Taksim Square in Ankara have not just rattled the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but have shown that Turkey is not the most workable model for Muslim democracy.The salient feature to be noticed about Erdoğan’s AKP is that it provides an example of how deep-rooted religious sentiment can be. The AKP’s fate provides an indication of how the Ikhwanul Muslimeen might fare in Egypt, and how democracy is as much imposed in the Muslim world as any other system, and how it seems to produce authoritarian figures.Turkey is of central importance for three reasons. First, it is big, and is one of the largest Muslim economies. Second, it controls the Straits of Bosporus leading from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean. Third, it was the last centre of the caliphate, which was abolished here in 1924.This abolition is still one of the central events of Turkey’s creation, and led to the emergence of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a military officer, as its ruler as President. Kemal campaigned hard for the secularisation of Turkey, and the development of a Turkish nationalism. However, the Islamic heritage proved impossible to uproot, and the Refah Party of Necmettin Erbakan represented this until the 1982 military coup under General Kenan Evren ended his political career. It was left to Erdoğan to take over this constituency with the AKP, which added efficient economic management to the mix.Erdoğan has not really based his appeal on a return to Islamic values, though the ban on the serving of alcohol on the national flag-carrier has upset the upholders of secularism. He has pursued Turkey’s application to join the EU, and it has played a full role in the USA’s war on terror as a Nato member. It should not be forgotten that it had a key role in the Cold War, when it was the bulwark of the West on the USSR’s south-western flank, a rivalry that dated back centuries to the Ottomans and Romanovs.However, though this has led the AKP to two re-elections since its first win in 2002, with every prospect of a third at the next election due by 2014, it has also turned him into a ruler accused of authoritarianism. Turks do not seem capable of producing democrats, who can also deliver good governance. That places Turkey safely into the category of Asiatics incapable of imitating the West, which is primarily composed to the Germanic Races, including the Anglo-Saxons, who established the USA. The implications are horrendous. That means the model Muslim democracy would be Pakistan, or else Bangladesh not Turkey. It would also show that becoming like Europeans would not count, especially if you were Muslim. While adopting some traits would allow the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans.This would fit the view that ‘the Asiatic races’ are intrinsically incapable of responsible government. This would serve as a further excuse to exclude Turkey from the EU. This would be despite Turkey having done its best to earn admission. Turkey’s efforts have gained because of its proximity to Europe, but there has also been opposition because it is Muslim.The Taksim Square protests, on the other hand, are not Islamist, but leftist, and thus represent one of the most active interventions since the end of the Cold War shattered the Left. The Turkey protests have that leftism in common with the protests in Brazil. The Brazilian protests, which have led to the reversal of bus fare increases, have widened in scope to protest against the government. Interestingly, the government itself is leftist in orientation, with a second consecutive Workers Party President in office. However, in Turkey, the government is the very opposite of leftist, so while there is much soul-searching in Brazil, it is about the validity of calling for the ouster of the government.Both countries are under direct American tutelage, and both have gone to democracy after prolonged experiments with military rule. If Turkey has a proud history as the last home of the caliphate, Brazil has its own importance as a home to liberation theology, the belief that the Roman Catholic Church has to play a more effective role in combating worldly injustices, and must not merely try and reconcile the masses to their lot. It has been described by proponents as "an interpretation of Christian faith through the poor's suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor", and by detractors as Christianised Marxism. Priests of the Jesuit Order have been in the forefront of its proponents, and the Brazilian protesters can only have gained strength from the fact that the new Pope, Francis I, is a South American Jesuit.Erdoğan can go to 2015 before he faces another election, but his track record has been to opt for earlier dissolutions. Brazil faces a presidential election in 2014, to which it is bound by its presidential system, with President Dilma Rouseff being eligible to run again. The protests in both countries resemble something more basic than the rumblings of oppositions getting uneasy at being out of office for so long. One way of looking at them might be that they express the dissatisfaction that democracy is not resulting in a better life.One sign of this is, perhaps, the unwillingness of protesters to limit their demands to the immediate causes, but to move almost at once to the bringing down of the government. Protest is common in democracy, but calling for the change of the government is much more serious.The Pakistani government should watch both closely, because it too is elected, but could face popular protests because of a failure to deliver. In its case, it should remember that loadshedding, and that too in the hot weather, and to top it all with the fasting of Ramazan approaching, could light off the public. And Mian Nawaz Sharif should remember that Erdoğan is personally in his third term, while Rouseff’s party is in its.If the Taksim Square protests owe something to the Arab Spring, that cannot be said about those in Brazil, which is not just religiously or culturally, but also geographically, distant from the Arab world, and thus outside its influence.The baggage of democracy has to be kept in mind. One aspect of both Brazilian and Turkish protests is the dissatisfaction with the ability of democracy to deliver the fruits of capitalism. That implies that there might be a readiness to change the system if a better one is available. That should give pause to those ruling Pakistan, because unlike the people, they are committed to the present system.

The writer is a veteran journalist and founding member as well as executive editor of The Nation.