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Cablegate: Ak Party in a Parliamentary Landslide: Close to A

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ANKARA 007766

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINS TU POLITICAL PARTIES
SUBJECT: AK PARTY IN A PARLIAMENTARY LANDSLIDE: CLOSE TO A
TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY


REF: A. ANKARA 7726
B. ANKARA 7713
C. ANKARA 7697
D. ANKARA 7683
E. ANKARA 7682


1. Summary: Justice and Development (AK) Party's landslide
victory and Establishment standard-bearer Republican People's
Party's (CHP) distant second-place finish in Turkey's Nov. 3
general elections cuts the number of parties in parliament
back to only two for the first time in decades. While P.M.
Ecevit and Kemalist pundits professed shock at the results, a
varied spectrum of other commentators and leading businessmen
made balanced and forward-looking assessments. End summary.


2. AK Party has won big (reftels). With more than 94% of
votes tabulated, AK's 34.1% of the vote will give it more
than 360 of the 550 seats, CHP's 19.2% will give it about 176
seats, and there will be nine independent M.P.'s under the
complex proportional system currently in effect. At 0200
local on Nov. 4 AK vice chairman Mercan told us that
according to AK's calculations, the party is only two seats
shy of the 367 seat (two-thirds) majority it would need to be
able to meet one of AK leader Erdogan's campaign pledges --
to amend and democratize the 1982 constitution, drafted under
the direction of the Turkish military. Mercan opined that AK
might reach 367 as results are clarified; unofficial final
seat distribution will be clearer later the morning of Nov. 4.


3. All three parties in the current coalition government --
whose cabinet will remain in caretaker status until AK forms
a government -- failed to cross the 10% threshold. P.M.
Ecevit's DSP was obliterated with 1.3% of the vote; in 1999
it got 22%. ANAP fell to 5.2% from 13% in 1999. MHP only
managed to reach 8.5%, less than half the 18% it got in 1999,
which led party chairman Bahceli to the step -- unusual in
Turkish politics -- of accepting responsibility for the
failure and announcing he will not run again for the party
leadership in 2003.


4. Tansu Ciller's DYP, the principal opposition party in the
just-ended session of parliament, made a close run at the
threshold but appears to have fallen just a half percentage
point short. Islamist Saadet Party, which had also been in
vocal opposition in the last parliament, garnered only 2.6%.
Pro-Kurdish DEHAP failed to reach the threshold but in
winning 6.3% improved significantly over its predecessor
HADEP's 1999 showing. Motorola deadbeat Cem Uzan's upstart
Genc Party, which many had worried would make it into
parliament, tallied only 7.3%.


5. The numbers show that (1) 45% of the votes cast will not
be represented in the new parliament because they went to
parties unable to cross the threshold; (2) upwards of 60% of
the vote went to non-Establishment parties; (3) the
traditional center-right parties, which have dominated
Turkish politics for generations, got only 15% of the vote.


6. P.M. Ecevit and like-minded opinion-makers, who had raised
the spectre of a "regime crisis" if AK were to win, expressed
dismay at the size of AK's victory. However, a varied
spectrum of commentators, from Nazli Ilicak (formerly both
doyenne of the center-right press and an M.P. with the
now-closed Islamist Fazilet Party) to reform-minded captains
of industry Sakip Sabanci and Cem Boyner, publicly
underscored (1) the legitimacy of the results; and (2) AK's
standing as a party of the center. Nazli Ilicak also
interpreted the result as reflecting Turkish voters'
aspirations for the kind of equilibrium that a one-party
government in a two-party parliament can provide.
PEARSON

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