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Cablegate: Turkey: Publicly Funded Elections Deliver Smooth

VZCZCXRO9284
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAK #1986/01 2141328
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021328Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3246
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5//
RHMFIUU/39ABG CP INCIRLIK AB TU
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/425ABS IZMIR TU//CC//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001986

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: PUBLICLY FUNDED ELECTIONS DELIVER SMOOTH
RESULTS BUT PROBLEMS LOOM

1. (U) Summary: Turkish election experts believe the GOT's
public campaign financing system contributed to the
trouble-free July 22 election. Supporters contend that
providing campaign operating funds to parties that garnered 7
percent in the 2002 election allows candidates to focus on
campaigning and governing, rather than fundraising. It also
reduces the influence of special interest groups and the
wealthy on election results. Detractors argue that the
system adds unnecessary government costs, detaches the
political parties from the needs of their constituents, and
diminishes political competition. While the system served
the country well during this parliamentary election, the 7
percent threshold could make it difficult for dissenting
voices to be heard in the next. End summary.

Public Election Financing Contributes to Smooth Elections
--------------------------------------------- ------------

2. (U) Political parties in Turkey receive much of their
revenue from government grants. To receive government funds,
parties must have captured at least 7 percent of the popular
vote in the preceeding national election. Parties that
garner less than 7 percent receive nothing. In 2007, the
government paid 100 million YTL to five parties for annual
operating expenses, 216.3 million to those parties to fund
the July 22nd elections, and an additional 100 million to the
Supreme Election Board to implement the elections. Parties
procure funds proportional to the percentage of votes won in
the preceeding national election. For example, in 2002 AKP
received 34 percent of the vote, which assured that in 2007,
the party would receive 43 percent of the funds, in this case
47 million YTL for annual operating expenses and an
additional 94 million for the national elections.

3. (U) Proponents contend that the system allows parties to
focus on campaigning and governing rather than fundraising.
Competing in Turkish elections is costly. Political rally
organizer Sermurat Kucukgul says technical work to stage
rallies in Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir cost roughly 12,000
YTL each. Major political party leaders like Tayyip Erdogan,
Abdullah Gul, and Deniz Baykal held multiple rallies daily.
The parties also spent a prodigious amount on flags and
pennants -- CHP alone amassed over 5.5 million pieces of such
paraphernalia -- which cost between 2.5 and 7.5 YTL each.
Kucukgul and other experts maintain the system also reduces
the influence of special interest groups and curbs the
effects of wealth inequality on election results. They also
contend the system does not stifle competition, as evidenced
by this election, where five parties representing a diverse
array of ideas received government funds.

Detractors Argue Money Talks
----------------------------

4. (U) Detractors argue that the extensive government funds
lead to a gap between political parties and the needs of
their constituents. Parties are less likely to craft
representative policies, allowing a top-down management
style, commonplace in Turkish politics, to flourish. The
system also works to shut out smaller parties, they claim.
Omer Faruk Genckaya, an election expert from Bilkent
University, contends there now exists "a cartel party
system," where leaders from the major political parties
collude with each other to keep government funding high, and
avoid reforms that would allow funds to be distributed more
widely.

5. (U) Comment: Turkey's dynamic parliamentary election
environment was partly due to a system that provided funds to
the five parties that surpassed the 7 percent threshold in
the 2002 elections (AKP, CHP, MHP, DYP, GP). That same 7
percent threshold could make it difficult for dissenting
voices to be heard the next time, however. Only AKP, CHP,
and MHP garnered over 7 percent in the July 22 vote, setting
them but not other parties up to receive substantial
government funding in the next national election. Smaller
parties lacking government-funded campaigns are likely to
struggle, if not close down altogether. Ultimately, voters
will suffer by having fewer choices. While Turkey is known
for holding lively, free and fair elections, the GOT may

ANKARA 00001986 002 OF 002


revive proposals to lower the 7 percent threshold to ensure
that continues.

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

MCELDOWNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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