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Cablegate: Turkey's Constitutional and Election Law Changes

VZCZCXRO2654
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAK #6020 2911020
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181020Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9491
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU PRIORITY
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU PRIORITY

UNCLAS ANKARA 006020

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY'S CONSTITUTIONAL AND ELECTION LAW CHANGES
OPEN POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH BUT ADD HURDLES FOR
INDEPENDENTS


1. (SBU) Turkey's president approved a constitutional
amendment on October 17 lowering the age for parliamentary
candidates from 30 to 25. The move opens the door for
thousands of potential new political contenders in the
general elections scheduled for November 4, 2007. Parliament
also revised the election law to require that all
parliamentary candidates' names, including those who want to
run as independents, appear on one ballot, closing a loophole
that some independent candidates had used to garner votes.
The changes were one of the few legislative agenda items the
opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Motherland
Party (ANAVATAN) could agree to cooperate on with the ruling
Justice and Development Party (AKP). The race is now on as
Turkey's political parties maneuver to attract the sizeable
youth vote and revitalize their slates of candidates.

2. (U) PM Erdogan welcomed the constitutional amendment and
called on Turkey's youth to engage in politics. Speaking at
the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Youth Assembly's
October 16 iftar dinner, Erdogan proosed that "Youngsters!
Enter parliament!" should be their new slogan. All young
people should follow political issues and develop their own
political approach in order to broaden the country's
horizons, Erdogan said. Approximately 18 percent of Turkey's
population -- and about one-third of its 40 million voters --
is 20 to 29 years old, based on rough 2006 figures.

3. (SBU) While parliament opened the door for young
candidates, some argue that it has put up obstacles for the
pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) by annulling the
right of independent candidates to use separate ballot
papers. In past elections, independents have handed out
separate ballots with their names that voters could submit,
rather than selecting a candidate from a long ballot listing
all of the parties. This has helped bolster pro-Kurdish
candidates, particularly in the Southeast where literacy is
low and Turkish is not the primary language, especially for
women. Requiring all candidates to be listed on the same
ballot may make it more difficult for DTP to gain votes
(though they are unlikely in any event to meet the ten
percent electoral threshold required for a party to enter
parliament). Others argued that the change will in fact make
it easier for independent candidates to run by eliminating
the expense of printing their own ballot sheets.

4. (U) Parliament is pushing through proposed election
legislation, including setting the November 4, 2007 election
date, to meet the requirement that changes be made at least
one year before general elections are held. Setting the date
is likely to put an end -- for now -- to speculation that the
AKP might call early elections.

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

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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