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Cablegate: Turkey: Southeast Election Results

VZCZCXRO2753
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAK #1899/01 2070633
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 260633Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3124
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU//TCH//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/TSR ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001899

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL PTER OSCE TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: SOUTHEAST ELECTION RESULTS

REF: ANKARA 1875

1.(SBU) Summary: The Kurdish nationalist Democratic Society
Party's (DTP) success in gaining 22 seats nation-wide
demonstrates the continued salience of identity politics in
southeastern Turkey. The ruling Justice and Development
Party (AKP), however, did unexpectedly well in the region by
combining traditional powers of incumbency while
simultaneously running against the Ankara military and
bureaucratic establishment. The AKP's success also suggests
that most southeast voters want to turn the page on the
confrontational, violent politics that have dominated the
region for 25 years. End summary.

Two-Party Race in Southeast
---------------------------

2.(SBU) As expected, the election in the heavily Kurdish
southeastern provinces of Turkey was a two-party contest
between AKP and independent candidates endorsed by the
Kurdish nationalist DTP. Twenty-two DTP-backed candidates
won across the country, a respectable showing given the
built-in barriers in the Turkish election system to
independent candidates. In the Southeast, however, AKP put
in a much stronger than expected performance, nearly equaling
the DTP vote in Diyarbakir, the most important Kurdish
province in the country. Main opposition Republican People's
Party (CHP) was the big loser, surrendering all 14 of its
seats in 12 heavily Kurdish southeast provinces. The
stridently nationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) was
never in contention there.

AK: Party of Protest, Power and Faith
--------------------------------------

3.(SBU) All of our contacts credit the Turkey General Staff
(TGS) web-site memo of April 27, which was interpreted as an
attack on both AKP and on democratic institutions, with
generating huge sympathy for AKP among Kurdish voters, who
reflexively support parties that are willing to challenge the
power of Turkey's "deep state." Siyar Ozsoy, an aide to
Diyarbakir's (DTP) mayor, told us that "People identify with
those who face 'injustice' as most people think that they are
experiencing different forms of injustice."

4.(SBU) While playing the victim in the final weeks of the
campaign, throughout its four years in office AKP government
used economic tools to win over voters; for example, the
government instituted a program of providing cash incentives
to poor, rural families to keep their children in school,
which resulted in significant supplements to many families,
particularly those with many children. Payments are also
made to elderly citizens and those with sons doing their
military service. Some conservative voters also supported
AKP for religious reasons, believing it can resolve the
headscarf issue.

Competition on Kurdish Issue
----------------------------

5.(SBU) According to Diyarbakir Bar Chairman Sezgin
Tanrikoglu, many now believe that AKP is capable of
addressing their core issues of expanding cultural and
political rights. He noted that AKP vote more than tripled
in Diyarbakir in the last five years thanks in part to the
feeling that AKP is making sincere efforts at
democratization. AK Party chairman (and now MP) in
Diyarbakir, Abdurrahman Kurt, advocates many of the same
policies favored by DTP, but carries none of the PKK baggage.
Some AKP candidates spoke Kurdish regularly on the campaign
trail, reinforcing the fact that their party is not part of
the traditional Ankara establishment. The on-going violence
between the PKK and the military also hurt the DTP vote,
according to Tanrikoglu. In Diyarbakir, he said, many Kurds
blame the PKK for the March, 2006 rioting and are losing
confidence in DTP's efforts to achieve political reforms.
AKP leadership also won sympathy in the final weeks of the
campaign for refusing to sanction an incursion into Northern
Iraq against the PKK despite intense pressure to do so from
the media and elements of the military.

DTP: Projecting Moderation, Worried About Rowdy Constituents

ANKARA 00001899 002 OF 002


--------------------------------------------- ---------------

6.(SBU) DTP's campaign focused on Kurdish identity, and
played up Kurds' absence from parliament for the last 14
years as the main issue. While this message resonated with
about half the voters in the southeast, it did not travel
well, even to regions that have seen massive Kurdish
in-migration in the last ten years. In the view of
Diyarbakir-based development worker Nurcan Baysal, DTP's
inability to engage on economic issues hurt it, since poverty
is the principal preoccupation for many Kurdish households in
the region. AKP mayors in bordering regions such as
Gaziantep, were able to capture the votes of many Kurdish
migrants through a combination of generous assistance to the
urban poor coupled with moderate, inclusive cultural
policies. As a consequence, DTP was unable to capture any
seats in the "near-east" migration destinations such as
Adiyaman, Elazig and Mersin, though they have filed a
petition protesting a close race in Adana.

7.(SBU) Free-lance journalist Yilmaz Akinci noted that DTP's
success is already leading to high expectations among their
supporters; a number of PKK sympathizers have used DTP
victory rallies to chant pro-Ocalan slogans and they will
likely be demanding rapid progress on their top priority
issue of winning amnesty for PKK fighters. DTP's leadership,
however, wants to project an image of moderation and has
already promised to participate in parliamentary voting to
elect a new president, a move that will be welcome news to
AKP.

8.(SBU) Comment: AKP's unexpectedly strong win shows that
"normal" politics detached from the vexed Kurdish issue is
possible in the southeast. While AKP showed respect for
Kurdish sensitivities, its success stemmed mainly from its
ability to deliver services and provide economic assistance.
PM Erdogan's July 24 declaration that AKP wants to win the
mayoralty of Diyarbakir would have been laughable a week ago.
Today it is probably an even-money bet.

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

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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