Search

 

Cablegate: Turkey-Adding More Democracy to the Democratic

VZCZCXRO8505
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHIT #0400/01 2111306
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291306Z JUL 08
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8344
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 2367
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ISTANBUL 000400

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY-ADDING MORE DEMOCRACY TO THE DEMOCRATIC
PARTY (DP)

REF: ISTANBUL 334

ISTANBUL 00000400 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: Newly elected Istanbul chair of the
Democratic Party (DP) Remzi Sen said the party is
incorporating additional democratic principles, including a
primary system to select its candidates. This is part of
DP's new strategy to broaden its appeal and "embrace all 70
million Turks". The party seeks to receive over ten percent
of the national votes in the 2009 local elections to show it
is a viable opposition party. Sen understands that poor
leadership in the past has given the party a bad image, but
thinks new blood at the top should overcome this problem.
Sen is critical of the closure case against the ruling
Justice and Development Party (AKP) and supports the
operation against the alleged "Ergenekon" coup plotters. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) DP's Istanbul chair Remzi Sen stated the party is in
the process of adopting radical changes to become truly
democratic. According to Sen, elected Istanbul DP chairman
in June, at the October party convention the DP will change
its party by-laws to require all DP candidates to be selected
by a primary vote, rather than being appointed by the party
leadership. This will show the DP is serious about bringing
the average Turk into the political process, Sen argued. By
contrast, in Turkey's other major political parties the
leadership selects candidates for the party lists with no
input from the rank and file. This will give DP a great
advantage during the next election, according to Sen, since
Turks tend to vote for candidates whom they know personally.
A primary system would strongly encourage candidates to
interact with the voters to gain better and positive name
recognition.

3. (SBU) According to Sen, selecting candidates by a primary
system is part of DP's strategy to "embrace all 70 million
Turks". The new DP national party chair Suleyman Soylu,
wants to reach out to all consistencies to counter the
current divisive political situation, Sen said. Young,
energetic, and with a background similar to Prime Minister
Erdogan, Soylu grew up in an Istanbul lower middle-class
neighborhood, learning politics at the grassroots level, he
noted. Soon after becoming party chair, Soylu traveled
throughout Turkey to introduce himself to the electorate.
Sen told us DP does not target a particular region or
demographic: "all Turks are the same; Diyarbakir is no
different from Trabzon". Sen said Soylu brings a fresh, new
positive attitude to the DP that will attract all Turks.

--------------------------------------------- ---
DP Wants to get over 10 percent in the 2009 Local elections
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. (SBU) Sen told us DP seeks to gain over ten percent of the
national vote in the local elections currently scheduled for
March 2009. Although the 10 percent threshold set by law for
representation in Parliament does not apply to local
elections, crossing this symbolic barrier would signal to the
public that DP is a viable political party in a future
national election. DP has no plans to renew attempts to merge
with fellow center-right Motherland Party (Anavatan), he
added (reftel). While Anavatan members are welcome to join
DP, DP will not merge with any party. Sen emphasized DP is
the original center-right party, with roots going back to the
1940s, and currently garners far more support than the
smaller Anavatan Party.

5. (SBU) While Sen did not provide concrete examples of how a
DP administration would differ from AKP, he criticized AKP
for dividing the nation. Sen alleged the AKP packed the
bureaucracy with cronies, rather than appointing people on
merit. He conceded that previous ruling parties used the
same tactic, claiming however that AKP's abuse was more
pervasive. AKP's appointment policy is more dangerous, Sen
stated, because the leadership not only chooses from its own
supporters but focuses its appointments on people with "a
certain lifestyle"; a veiled reference to pious party
supporters.

-------------
Past Problems
-------------

ISTANBUL 00000400 002.2 OF 002

6. (SBU) Sen admitted DP has an image problem caused by past
leaders. Management and personal mistakes tainted DP and its
predecessor, the True Path Party (DYP). Previous party
chairs Tansu Ciller and Mehmet Agar, both viewed as having
mismanaged the party, were associated with scandals in the
1990s. Soylu will bring the party back to its roots,
according to Sen.

---------------------------------------------
Anti-Closure Case; Pro-Ergenekon Prosectuion
---------------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Sen strongly criticized the AKP closure case,
stating the judiciary should not ban a legitimately elected
ruling party. In a true democracy, the people should decide
if a party should be closed, and the method to do this is
through the normal electoral process. The military, the
judiciary and foreign powers should not meddle in Turkey's
democratic system. Sen expects the Constitutional Court to
make the "right" decision by rejecting the prosecutor's call
to ban the AKP. Even if the AKP is not banned, AKP opponents
will continue to pressure the party, likely introducing yet
another political crisis, he continued. The public is
getting fed up with the political unrest and will punish AKP
at the ballot box, he predicted.

8. (SBU) Sen told us there is at least "some truth" to the
ongoing criminal investigations targeting the Ergenekon
alleged coup plotters. There are those who seek to remove
AKP by any means necessary, including using force to oust a
democratically elected government, he said. Those who plan
or instigate the forceful removal of a government should be
prosecuted under the law.

----------
Comment
----------

9. (SBU) If successful, the DP's move to use primaries to
select candidates would be a welcome step away from the
Turkish custom of concentrating that power in party leaders'
hands. While this may create bitter power struggles open to
public viewing, it would boost DP's credibility as a more
open and democratic alternative to AKP and other parties - a
positive development in a country with very little
intra-party democracy. At the same time, if DP cannot
articulate a platform with grass-roots appeal distinct from
AKP, or indeed from its own past, it is hard to see how a
primary system alone will bring in enough votes to restore
the party's viability.
OUDKIRK

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: