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Cablegate: Turkey: Akp in the Provinces - Top Down Is The

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001733

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/30/2017
TAGS: PGOV TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: AKP IN THE PROVINCES - TOP DOWN IS THE
TREND

REF: ANKARA 1437

Classified By: PolCouns Janice G. Weiner, reasons 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) Summary and comment: A series of trips to Turkey's
provinces have made it clear that PM Erdogan's Justice and
Development Party (AKP) has turned into the top-down Erdogan
machine. He picked the candidate lists, he set the
priorities and the platform. If AKP returns to government,
all will be beholden to him. On the provincial side, there
is less of a sense of participatory democracy, though in most
places they are working to maintain party solidarity,
including by flashy Erdogan-led rallies. It is an encore of
the "great man", central government control complex that has
always plagued Turkish politics. End summary and comment.

2. (C) Erdogan has always been top dog in AKP, even before he
had his political ban lifted and replaced Abdullah Gul as
prime minister in 2003. Early on, AKP touted its democratic
credentials and billed itself as an uncharacteristically
Turkish internally democratic big tent party. That has
gradually eroded as Erdogan exerted ever-increasing control
over party structures and appointments, culminating in this
year's candidate lists for the July 22 parliamentary
elections. He has studiously moderated the party's profile,
cutting MPs who voted "no" on March 1 (2003), trimming back
those stemming from the Islamist National View perspective
and pruning deadwood elsewhere. He has also parachuted
candidates into districts based on who he wants to get
elected (as with Mehmet Simsek who tops the list in moderate
Gaziantep) or whose district he wants to control (as with the
number 1 candidate in Sivas, an Erdogan Istanbul protege who
replaced Sivas' own, Deputy PM Abdullatif Sener, to the
dismay of locals). In a long-running Turkish tradition, this
will give Erdogan solid control over his party; newly elected
deputies will know they are beholden to Erdogan and
understand the PM will not hesitate to axe them next election
period if they do not toe the line.

3.(C) The mirror image of such control is disillusionment,
resignation and a drop in enthusiasm at the provincial level,
where local AKP organizations feel Erdogan and his cronies
ran roughshod over their internal primary system, rejecting
candidates they had tabbed as qualified for those preferred
by Ankara (as was the case in Van). In Sivas, where the
city's own Deputy PM did not make the election lists,
purportedly because he disagreed with how they were drawn up,
Sener's photo still graces AKP campaign posters and the
locals seem perplexed at why an experienced politician -- and
co-founder of AKP -- was given the brush-off. In other
places -- often the sub-provinces or poorer areas such as
Yozgat, east of Ankara, the local party organization seems
grateful for the PM's hand, and those who made the candidate
lists are careful to include those who did not, introducing
them formally to visitors. In the sub-provinces, Erdogan
worship is in full swing.

4. (C) This was encapsulated in an Erdogan rally we witnessed
in Yozgat on June 28. Preparations were impeccable --
quality soundstage, large screen for those at the back,
flags, enormous banners with candidates' pictures and
slogans, decorations, music, confetti, balloons (all trucked
in). An MC - and a burning sun - warmed up the crowd for
several hours. When the main act arrived, the crowd was
lukewarm on former Justice Minister Cicek and a local AKP
candidate, generally (but not universally) polite to FM Gul,
but people got to their feet for PM Erdogan. While crowd
numbers did not approach the 50,000 AKP organizers were
touting (it was a work day, it was hot, and a number of those
who attended were clearly spectators vice supporters), there
were probably 30,000 in a traditional National Action Party
(MHP) stronghold. Gul, who did not connect well with the
crowd, focused on how AKP (and he personally) had been the
victim in the abortive April presidential election; the PM
touted actions taken to make the average working Turk's life
easier, and what AKP still planned to do. Finally, Erdogan
worked hard to pump them up, western campaign style, to shout
out the AKP election slogans, before departing by helicopter
for his next rally of the day.


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5. (C) In the provinces, AKP candidates and provincial
chairmen are unfailingly upbeat and optimistic about the
numbers they will gain on July 22. But AKP is starting to
look more like an old-style Turkish party than a new,
internally democratic one. The party lost one potentially
potent calling card with the enormous youth vote: with early
elections AKP was not able to offer candidacies to those
under 30 (25-29), since that constitutional amendment will
not take effect until the fall. AKP's strength has been its
base and its volunteer grassroots organizations; these
remain committed to AKP and Erdogan. But Erdogan's top-down
tactics may dim enthusiasm at the mid-level, and AKP -- along
with other parties -- is looking for every vote it can
muster.

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

WILSON


id: 115136
date: 7/12/2007 8:19
refid: 07ANKARA1778
origin: Embassy Ankara
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001778

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/05/2022
TAGS: PGOV TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: THE PRO-KURDISH DTP - ITS ELECTION AND
POST-ELECTION PROSPECTS

REF: ADANA 78

Classified By: PolCouns Janice G. Weiner, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: The largest and most influential pro-Kurdish
political party, the Democratic Society Party (DTP), running
candidates as independents, seems set to take some two dozen
seats in the July 22 parliamentary election. This is enough
seats to form a parliamentary group and -- if DTPers stick to
their moderate rhetoric -- potentially wield some clout in
the new parliament. The DTP, however, has links with the
terrorist PKK and it is unclear just how moderate their voice
will be. Their candidacies stand in sharp contrast to a rise
in PKK violence, which seems aimed at creating further
divisions and instability in Turkey's southeast. PM Erdogan
has called on DTPers who enter parliament to be responsible
political actors, not beholden to a terrorist organization.
How DTP acts in parliament will prove a bellwether for openly
Kurdish aspirations in Turkey for years to come. End summary.

DTP Endorsing "Independent" Candidates
---------------------------------------

2. (C) In recent meetings throughout southeastern Turkey,
local politicians, journalists and businesspeople told us
that DTP-endorsed independent candidates are expected to win
up to two dozen seats in Parliament in the July 22 elections.
In the region's most populous provinces, Diyarbakir and Van,
the party is expected to win a total of eight seats, while
winning one or two seats in 10 other southeastern provinces
plus in selected regions of western Turkey (reftel). Should
they win at least 20 seats, they will have enough to form a
formal parliamentary group, entitled to floor time and
allowed to present legislative proposals. DTP officials,
including party chairman Ahmet Turk, have stressed that their
parliamentarians will work to achieve their objectives by
working responsibly with other parties and avoiding the type
of confrontational stunt -- specifically, insisting on
speaking in Kurdish when taking the oath of office -- that
landed their predecessors (including Turk himself) in hot
water in the early 1990s.

3. (C) PM Erdogan has publicly thrown down the "moderation"
gauntlet to DTP, calling on those who enter parliament after
the July 22 elections to be responsible political actors. He
implied that, should he lead Turkey's next government, that
government could work with (though not be in coalition with)
the DTP if their aims and behavior are moderate. The PM also
made clear that if DTP wants to play a constructive role in
parliament, it cannot be beholden to the terrorist PKK. The
PM's Justice and Development Party (AKP) believes it can
benefit from DTP support within parliament on democratic
reforms, but not if the votes are PKK-tainted.

4. (C) That there are links between the DTP and the terrorist
PKK is clear. Some noted to us that the DTP has parachuted
candidate into districts, which will make them answer to the
group that put them there -- a political practice in Turkey
not unique to DTP. In previous meetings with DTP chairman
Ahmet Turk, we have urged him unequivocally to condemn PKK
violence; he has demurred, saying that while he abhors
violence, it would be political suicide for him to issue such
a public statement. In indications of Turk's attempt to push
the envelope, he condemned the May Ankara bombing; attempted
(unsuccessfully) to place some relatively independent Kurdish
moderates on the election lists, such as Diyarbakir Bar
President Sezgin Tanrikulu, and tried (again, unsuccessfully)
to enter an election alliance with two small Kurdish parties,
KADEP and HAK-PAR, both untainted by any association with
violence. Regarding the still-born election alliance,
HAK-PAR chairman Serdac Bucak told us that Kurdish society
wants unity, "but the decision was made elsewhere - by the
PKK." And with respect to his proposed candidacy, Tanrikulu
explained to us that, based on his discussions with the DTP
about his candidacy, it was clear they wanted obedient
servants, not independent thinkers (also hardly unique among
political parties, unless the organization pulling strings is
the PKK).
5. (C) But some of the DTP's established figures are not
helping to convey a moderate party image. A case in point is

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Diyarbakir mayor Osman Baydemir, under investigation for
remarks he made in a recent interview on pro-PKK Roj TV, in
which he categorized the PKK as fighters (not terrorists).

PKK Breathing Fire
-------------------

6. (C) Equally puzzling is the PKK's stepped up activities in
recent weeks, further raising the temperature in an already
tense region and political race. Many observers are
suspicious that the PKK's increased attacks are deliberately
intended to provoke stepped up Turkish military activity in
the southeast, further aggravating pre-existing cleavages
between Turks and Kurds. It is also possible that the PKK,
which does not exercise absolute control over DTP, may not
want the party to succeed in the political arena, where a
group of pro-Kurdish MPs could steal the limelight and media
attention, as well as rob the PKK of its primacy on the
Kurdish issue.

Comment
-------

7. (C) The July 22 general election remains an opportunity
for DTP and Turkey's Kurds. How they choose to play their
card -- how brave they are in the face of inevitable PKK
pressure -- may determine the voice, or lack thereof, in
Turkey of those with Kurdish ethnic aspirations for years to
come.

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

WILSON

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