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Cablegate: Turkey Headed to Early General Elections

VZCZCXRO2401
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAK #1025 1211623
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 011623Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1919
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU IMMEDIATE
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5// IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/39ABG CP INCIRLIK AB TU IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/425ABS IZMIR TU//CC// IMMEDIATE
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UNCLAS ANKARA 001025

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY HEADED TO EARLY GENERAL ELECTIONS

REF: ANKARA 1006 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) Turkey's Constitutional Court announced late Mary 1
that it has accepted the opposition Republican People's Party
(CHP) petition to annul the first round of presidential
voting on the ground that the required quorum was not
present. CHP had argued that 367 -- the two-thirds of the
members of parliament necessary to actually elect a president
in either of the first two rounds -- is also the number
required for a quorum. The Court agreed with CHP. It will
publish its decision as quickly as possible.

2. (U) Minutes later, Justice and Development Party (AKP)
spokesman and Justice Minister Cemil Cicek announced at a
press conference that the AKP government will abide by the
Court's decision as, he added, would any Turkish government.
Cicek also indicated that parliament would convene as
scheduled tomorrow afternoon, May 2, for what would have been
the second round of voting. Tomorrow's round will now
instead serve as a second attempt to gather a quorum of 367
for a new first round. If, as seems virtually certain, 367
MPs do not show, this parliament will be unable to elect a
president. As a result, its only remaining duties will be to
pass an election law and dissolve itself.

3. (U) The AKP central executive and decision making board
will reportedly convene this evening; the AK party group will
meet tomorrow morning. The opposition, whose desire for
early elections the Court's decision fulfills, is expected to
make statements soon. Cicek told the assembled press that
not only was AKP prepared to go to early elections, but it
was the party best prepared to do so.

4. (SBU) Comment: The Court's decision ensures early
elections, taking Turkey down the road that seemed almost
inevitable following the Turkish General Staff's April 27
statement. It also allows AKP to take the high road, make
another attempt to gather a quorum of 367 and when that
fails, proceed with immediate elections. This development
will likely calm financial markets. The Court's decision
accomplishes one more thing as well: it guarantees that it
will be enormously difficult for any sitting parliament to
elect a president, unless (1) one party manages to amass at
least 367 MPs; or (2) a candidate is found who commands such
consensus that this new quorum requirement can be met. End
comment.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/

WILSON

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