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Cablegate: Reports On Local Elections - 2004

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ADANA 0017

SIPDIS


FOR APP/IZMIR


SENSITIVE


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM TU ADANA
SUBJECT: REPORTS ON LOCAL ELECTIONS - 2004


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Contacts in Adana tell us
incumbent Mayor Durak is certainly running for
re-election. His party affiliation remains
unclear, but an official close to the mayor
asserts that AK Party will announce Durak's
candidacy after the February Sacrifice Holiday.
Because of mass Kurdish migration from southeast
Turkey, candidates from the main stream political
parties will need to attract immigrant voters in
order to win Adana's mayoralty. Gaziantep
appears to be a two-horse race between CHP and AK
Party. According to contacts, DEHAP is still in
the lead in the Diyarbakir mayoralty race as well
as in smaller southeast Turkey municipal races.
Cizre DEHAP may well opt to run a Diyarbakir
resident on the DEHAP mayoral ticket due to
alleged torture of local DEHAP candidates,
according to a consulate contact there. Still
indecision and party internal fragmentation
indicate these races are not automatic locks for
DEHAP As an example, he predicted that local
voters would not readily accept an outsider and
so DEHAP might lose in Cizre. END SUMMARY.


ADANA: MAYOR SEEKS THE PARTY OF CHANGE OR JUST TO
CHANGE HIS PARTY?


2. (SBU) Consulate personnel spoke on January 14
with an official close to current Adana Mayor
Aytac Durak. Durak is certainly running for re-
election (with which party he will be affiliated
is the question). Durak's ideological stance
remains a bit unclear. At one time he belonged
to DYP, but he was most recently elected on the
ANAP's ticket. The official stated that Durak
definitely intends to join the AK Party and run
as their candidate. According to repeated press
reports, Durak conducted polls in recent months
to ask the Adana voters to which party he should
belong. Durak commands a strong following
according to the official, probably at least 30%
of the voters. This official asserted that
another 60% was split evenly between CHP and AK
Party. He predicted to consulate personnel that
the winning ticket would be the one with Durak on
it.


3. (SBU) Durak may be caught in the middle now.
Press reported both that ANAP chairman Nesrin Nas
will not accept him as ANAP's candidate because
he has changed parties too often and that AK
Party Adana chairman Abdullah Dogru would not
accept Durak as AK's candidate unless the Ankara
party leadership appointed him. Dogru stated
that, of course, the Adana AK Party leadership
would respect Ankara's ultimate decision: "We
would show respect even if Ankara appointed Fidel
Castro." The official close to the mayor
maintains that AK Party will announce Durak's
candidacy after the February Sacrifice Holiday.
Although Durak prefers AK Party, the official
confided that CHP wasn't out of question
entirely.


ALLIANCES MAY BE THE KEY


4. (SBU) Because of the mass migration from
southeast Turkey to the Cukurova region,
candidates from the mainstream political parties
need to attract immigrant Kurdish ethnic voters
in order to win Adana's mayoralty. Leftist
parties and DEHAP are reportedly exploring
negotiations with CHP for an alliance. Local
observers predict that, in part because of
national incumbency, and in part, because of the
conservative nature of Southeast Turkey's
population, AK Party should do well in the
upcoming local elections. The southeast Turkey
immigrant bloc and the bloc in support of Durak ,
most observers believe, will be determinative.
Since these two voting blocs, according to the
mayoral official, will go with either CHP or AK
party, it is shaping up to be a two-party race.


GAZIANTEP: TWO HORSE RACE-CHP VS AK PARTY


5. (SBU) Consulate personnel met with a
prominent Gaziantep businessperson and long-time
newspaper owner to discuss his perspective on the
possible outcomes of local elections. Like in
Adana, it appears to be a two-horse race between
CHP and the AK Party. According to the business
contact, CHP may nominate the current Gaziantep
mayor, Celal Dogan, to run on its ticket and the
newspaper owner believed the yet-to-be announced
AK Party candidate could strongly challenge
Dogan. The reason, he said, was that many of the
recent immigrants to Gaziantep from southeastern
Turkey would likely vote AK Party rather than
DEHAP, as they might have in their former
districts farther east (Note: he estimated about
800,000 immigrants to Gaziantep from southeast
Turkey in recent years). He noted that the
Islamic political parties had provided services
to underprivileged areas in order to secure their
votes. He also noted that the immigrants
practiced a more conservative Islam and
identified with the AK party for this reason.
The businessman expressed concern at the prospect
of an AK Party mayor and expressed his belief
that, if that were the case, his newspaper would
be subject to increased political pressure. He
related that most newspapers in Turkey cater to
the incumbent party to secure economic advantage.


6. (SBU) The mixed economic atmosphere in which
the Gaziantep elections will be held is typical
of the larger cities in southeast Turkey. On the
day of the meeting with this businessman,
consulate personnel also attended the opening of
the Gaziantep Shoe Fair. State Minister
Abdullatif Sener opened the fair, an impressive
collection of regional Turkish manufacturers and
importers. Sener's appearance highlighted the
importance the current government ascribes to the
Gaziantep commercial scene and the possible gain
of an AKP mayoralty there. In contrast, our
business contact related how he had opened a
bookstore in Gaziantep and quickly lost 300,000
USD because nobody purchases any books. He
attributed this to a lack of both money and
education. Most contacts agreed that the AK Party
in Gaziantep is very wealthy and yet their
potential new voting bloc may be those recent
immigrants from southeast Turkey who have little
money or education.


AK PARTY'S PLAN--WILL IT BE MUTLU OR GUZEL (HAPPY
OR BEAUTIFUL)?


7. (SBU) Another business contact in Gaziantep
(long known to both the Embassy and the
Consulate) also related to consulate personnel
the AK party strategy for the upcoming mayoral
race. The current mayor, Celal Dogan, recently
re-joined CHP and is considered a possible
candidate for either the Gaziantep or Istanbul
mayoralty. He stands a good chance of winning in
Istanbul, the businessman asserted, because there
is a "large and influential population of voters
from Gaziantep" who are currently living and
doing business in Istanbul. On the other hand,
he still remains popular in Gaziantep should he
run for re-election.


8. (SBU) AK party reportedly will nominate
PETKIM official Mustafa Mutlu if CHP chooses
Dogan to run in Istanbul, believing that he has a
solid chance of winning without Dogan's
competition. If Dogan runs on the CHP ticket in
Gaziantep, it is thought that Dr. Asim Guzel will
be the AK party nominee. With Dogan in the race,
our local contact says that AK party officials
project that their candidate is a long shot to
win anyway and the businessman believed that it
serves AK party interests to run their stronger
candidates elsewhere.


FARTHER EAST: DIYARBAKIR AND BEYOND


9. (SBU) A human rights contact in Diyarbakir
with broad regional contacts told PO on January
19 that DEHAP is still in the driver seat in the
Diyarbakir mayoralty race. He said DEHAP,
nevertheless, was still not decided as to whether
to re-endorse incumbent mayor Feridun Celik.
While he saw AKP quite active in building its
Diyarbakir base, their chances of success were
slim unless DEHAP waited too long to pick a
definitive candidate to head its ticket.


10. (SBU) Further afield in the Southeast, he
saw some changes brewing. He said AKP might win
in Gaziantep and definitely believed that DEHAP
would lose in Elazig and Bingol, either to
popular local independents, ANAP or DYP
candidates. He also noted DEHAP and SHP might
run joint candidates in many smaller southeast
Turkey mayoral races. Nevertheless, he said that
conventional wisdom still held that most
southeast mayoral races were DEHAP's to lose
(Comment: DEHAP's popularity in southeast Turkey
is ideologically-based, not personality-based or
even performance-based. In most cases, the DEHAP
candidate chosen is of little interest to the
voters. End comment).


HOW DEHAP MIGHT LOSE SOME.


11. (SBU) A longtime consulate contact without
political affiliation in Cizre explained that
DEHAP-affiliated politicians in Cizre had been so
either "tortured" (he did not specify how) or
harassed by local Jandarma and TNP that Cizre
DEHAP may well opt to run a Diyarbakir resident
on the DEHAP mayoral ticket. He predicted this
approach was likely to fail since local aghas
rarely embraced outsiders, even fellow Kurds, and
may opt to support a local AKP candidate.


12. (U) Comment: We will continue to try to gauge
whether the AK bandwagon in the rest of Turkey is
as strong in a region which has become more
Kurdish nationalist over the past 15 years and
where local feudal landlords and tribal leaders
can still be swayed by the highest bidder. End
comment.
REID

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