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Cablegate: Turkey: Small Party Alleges Rights Violations By

VZCZCXRO3180
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHIT #0675/01 2071313
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261313Z JUL 07
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7332
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ISTANBUL 000675

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: SMALL PARTY ALLEGES RIGHTS VIOLATIONS BY
SUPREME ELECTION BOARD

REF: ANKARA 1477

This is a joint ConGen Istanbul/Embassy Ankara Cable.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The minuscule Liberal Democrat Party (LDP)
intends to file a complaint of "gross violations" of rights
against Turkey's Supreme Election Board (SEB) with the
European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The SEB's decisions
are final and may not be appealed to any body inside Turkey,
so LDP is taking its case to the ECHR. Although the LDP
obviously overreached in its pursuit of a stay of the July 22
elections, its complaint is shared by outside observers,
including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE). LDP Chairman Cem Toker spoke to Mission
officers about its case, and more generally about what he
sees as unfair election procedures, including funding, media
coverage, and mandatory documentation. He insisted that
although his party has no hope of passing the 10% threshold
required to join parliament, he will continue his advocacy
for the protection of Turkish citizens, basic voting rights
and freedoms. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) LDP,s complaint stems from election filing
requirements that can invalidate all of a party's candidates
in a province because one candidate's paperwork is improperly
filed. According to Toker, election regulations require
parties contesting parliamentary seats in an electoral
district to field one candidate for every seat to be awarded
in the district. For each candidate, much paperwork is
required, including copies of national identification and
diplomas and a letter from the state prosecutor. If one
candidate fails to provide all the paperwork (or it gets lost
in the mail), their individual candidacy is declared invalid,
and they are removed from the list. The provincial list is
then incomplete, and consequently, all candidates in the
district's list -- in other words, the party as a whole --
are excluded from the ballot in that district. LDP put
forward 478 candidates (in 75 districts
), only 15 of which were considered invalid. Because of this
regulation, one-quarter of their candidates (120) were
subsequently excluded, leaving LDP with candidates in only 62
districts. Their entire slate for Istanbul's third district,
for instance, was ruled invalid because of one candidate's
duplicate registration in Istanbul and Canakkale due to
confusion over the candidate's married and maiden names.

3. (U) After the draft lists were submitted to the SEB
(reftel), the SEB advised LDP (and all parties) of the gaps
in documentation, which LDP scrambled to fill in the four-day
window leading up to June 8. After that deadline, LDP
received a letter from SEB advising that "because some of the
candidates did not provide their paperwork, LDP has been
withdrawn from the following cities..." However LDP claims
it was never advised of which candidates' dossiers were
incomplete. (Note: LDP was notified of and had the
opportunity to replace candidates with criminal records.)

4. (SBU) Attorney and co-founder of the Liberal Thinking
Association, Kazim Berzeg, has agreed to take the case to the
ECHR. Toker told Mission officers that he would be meeting
with ECHR officials and that he intended to seek a stay of
action on the election citing "the irreparable damage holding
the election would cause, given this violation of rights of
both the candidates and the voters."

5. (U) In an article about LDP's situation (June 27),
national columnist Mehmet Ali Birand called the SEB a
dictatorship and agreed that Toker's claims look serious.
Other outside observers have also objected to the power
wielded by the SEB; an OSCE preliminary election Needs
Assessment Mission Report (June 2007) states that "the
absence of appeal from an administrative decision...
remain(s) contrary to OSCE commitments."

6. (U) LDP has announced its intention to take these
complaints to the OSCE, UN, the National Democratic Institute
(NDI), Carter Center, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe (PACE). LDP also has a lawsuit pending in
Ankara concerning Treasury assistance to political parties,
alleging that it violates the equity clause in the
Constitution.

7. (SBU) Toker complained that his party faced many barriers
in the parliamentary election. Unlike the Justice and
Development Party (AKP), the Republican People's Party (CHP),
the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), the Genc (Youth) Party
(GP), and the True Path Party (DYP) (the predecessor to the
Democrat Party), which were each given a percentage of 216.4

ISTANBUL 00000675 002 OF 002


million YTL from the Treasury for the election year, based on
the parties' relative performances in the 2002 elections, the
LDP did not receive financial support. According to Toker's
calculations, the equivalent of 30 YTL for each voter was
distributed among the leading parties. Similarly, he
complained that although media laws say that there should be
fair time and equal coverage for all parties, this policy is
largely ignored. Like the other small parties, Toker was
given two 10-minute television slots to make the case for his
party in the election period, as opposed to the 40 minutes
given to AKP chairman Tayyip Erdogan.

8. (SBU) Toker defended his party's values and said that
although he has been teased for 13 years because people are
hungry while he talks about human rights, he believes that
history shows that people "first get their rights and
freedoms and then they prosper."

9. (SBU) Despite LDP,s status as a very small party, Toker
claimed the DYP offered a coalition with LDP for the 2002
election; Toker refused. Toker portrayed this as a "what
ifs" of history. DYP got 9.76% of the vote. Had a coalition
pushed them over the threshold, they might have gotten 65-70
deputies and "changed the course of history." In the fall of
2006, he campaigned to convince other small parties to form a
coalition irrespective of politics. He proposed dividing an
estimated 60 seats based on the percentage of votes each
party received. The formula would have favored the two
largest vote-getters, the Motherland Party (ANAP) and the
Democratic Left Party (DSP). Both proved reluctant to
compromise. The DSP is in parliament through its coalition
with the CHP, but Toker noted that the rest of the small
parties are "out of the picture."
OUDKIRK

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