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Cablegate: Istanbul Democratic Left Party Taking Aim At

VZCZCXYZ0011
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIT #0418 2191321
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061321Z AUG 08
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8366
INFO RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000418

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: ISTANBUL DEMOCRATIC LEFT PARTY TAKING AIM AT
FORMER POLITICAL PARTNER

REF: 07 ANKARA 2004

1. (SBU) Summary: Democratic Left Party (DSP) is targeting
its former political partner -- the Republican People's Party
(CHP) -- in the upcoming local elections, according to
Mustafa Aslan, Istanbul Chair of the DSP. Despite an
alliance that yielded 13 seats in Parliament for DSP, Aslan
said an association with CHP and its leader Deniz Baykal does
more harm than good to DSP. Aslan was also critical of those
who highlight social problems, since it detracts from the
core issue facing Turkey -- the economy. Aslan also blamed
the press for claiming DSP is engaged in a bitter power
struggle. End Summary.


Targeting CHP in the Local Elections
-------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Mustafa Aslan, Istanbul DSP Chair, explained to us
the party's strategy targeting former political partner of
convenience, CHP. While Aslan also talked about defeating
the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the
upcoming March local election, he said that DSP's immediate
target is CHP. DSP needs to recruit a strong candidate to
unseat the existing CHP mayor of Bakirkoy, Aslan said.
Commenting on CHP's lack of grassroots support, he quipped,
"there is no 'people' in the Republican People's Party".

3. (SBU) Aslan claimed partnering with CHP in the 2007
national election hurt DSP. While the partnership allowed 13
DSP members to enter parliament (reftel), DSP's connection
with Baykal caused great harm to the party; Baykal's
criticism of those benefitting from AKP's social programs
lost votes for the DSP. The alliance with CHP gave the
public the impression DSP was "anti-religion", when in fact
DSP views religion as a personal choice and believes economic
issues should be the government's primary focus.


It's the Economy, Stupid
-----------------------

4. (SBU) Aslan stressed that economic problems are the main
issues facing Turkey today. High personal credit card debt,
increasing inflation and joblessness are Turks' primary
concerns. Aslan claimed only one percent of Turks care
about lifting the headscarf ban in universities, yet AKP
focused on this issue to distract voters from existing
economic problems.


Leadership Fight is Exaggerated
---------------------------------

5. (SBU) Aslan maintained a biased media is distorting
accounts of a bitter power struggle between DSP Chairman Zeki
Sezer and Rahsan Ecevit, wife of former Chairman and Prime
Minister Bulent Ecevit. Aslan told us internal suggestions
from Ecevit were inappropriately leaked and exaggerated to
imply a power struggle. Aslan assured us Sezer remains the
undisputed leader of the party.


Comment
-------

6. (SBU) The Istanbul DSP branch strategy to focus on CHP
strongholds in the local elections will likely divide the
center-left vote, to the benefit of AKP. With DSP polling in
the low single digits, its strategy will likely cause it to
be a spoiler, and a weak one at that. The DSP fixation on
defeating the CHP could cause it to be shut out in the local
elections in Istanbul.

7. (SBU) Despite Aslan's claims, DSP appears to be facing a
leadership struggle that also influences the future of the
party. According to press accounts, Ecevit wants to replace
Sezer with a centrist leader who could attract more voters on
the right. However, with party rules stacked in Sezer's
favor, he will likely remain at the helm of a marginalized
DSP.
WIENER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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