US embassy cable - 02ANKARA7766

AK PARTY IN A PARLIAMENTARY LANDSLIDE: CLOSE TO A TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY

Identifier: 02ANKARA7766
Wikileaks: View 02ANKARA7766 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ankara
Created: 2002-11-03 23:47:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PREL PGOV PINS TU POLITICAL PARTIES
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ANKARA 007766 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINS, TU, POLITICAL PARTIES 
SUBJECT: AK PARTY IN A PARLIAMENTARY LANDSLIDE: CLOSE TO A 
TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY 
 
 
REF: A. ANKARA 7726 
     B. ANKARA 7713 
     C. ANKARA 7697 
     D. ANKARA 7683 
     E. ANKARA 7682 
 
 
1. Summary: Justice and Development (AK) Party's landslide 
victory and Establishment standard-bearer Republican People's 
Party's (CHP) distant second-place finish in Turkey's Nov. 3 
general elections cuts the number of parties in parliament 
back to only two for the first time in decades.  While P.M. 
Ecevit and Kemalist pundits professed shock at the results, a 
varied spectrum of other commentators and leading businessmen 
made balanced and forward-looking assessments.  End summary. 
 
 
2. AK Party has won big (reftels).  With more than 94% of 
votes tabulated, AK's 34.1% of the vote will give it more 
than 360 of the 550 seats, CHP's 19.2% will give it about 176 
seats, and there will be nine independent M.P.'s under the 
complex proportional system currently in effect.  At 0200 
local on Nov. 4 AK vice chairman Mercan told us that 
according to AK's calculations, the party is only two seats 
shy of the 367 seat (two-thirds) majority it would need to be 
able to meet one of AK leader Erdogan's campaign pledges -- 
to amend and democratize the 1982 constitution, drafted under 
the direction of the Turkish military.  Mercan opined that AK 
might reach 367 as results are clarified; unofficial final 
seat distribution will be clearer later the morning of Nov. 4. 
 
 
3. All three parties in the current coalition government -- 
whose cabinet will remain in caretaker status until AK forms 
a government -- failed to cross the 10% threshold.  P.M. 
Ecevit's DSP was obliterated with 1.3% of the vote; in 1999 
it got 22%.  ANAP fell to 5.2% from 13% in 1999.  MHP only 
managed to reach 8.5%, less than half the 18% it got in 1999, 
which led party chairman Bahceli to the step -- unusual in 
Turkish politics -- of accepting responsibility for the 
failure and announcing he will not run again for the party 
leadership in 2003. 
 
 
4. Tansu Ciller's DYP, the principal opposition party in the 
just-ended session of parliament, made a close run at the 
threshold but appears to have fallen just a half percentage 
point short.  Islamist Saadet Party, which had also been in 
vocal opposition in the last parliament, garnered only 2.6%. 
Pro-Kurdish DEHAP failed to reach the threshold but in 
winning 6.3% improved significantly over its predecessor 
HADEP's 1999 showing.  Motorola deadbeat Cem Uzan's upstart 
Genc Party, which many had worried would make it into 
parliament, tallied only 7.3%. 
 
 
5. The numbers show that (1) 45% of the votes cast will not 
be represented in the new parliament because they went to 
parties unable to cross the threshold; (2) upwards of 60% of 
the vote went to non-Establishment parties; (3) the 
traditional center-right parties, which have dominated 
Turkish politics for generations, got only 15% of the vote. 
 
 
6. P.M. Ecevit and like-minded opinion-makers, who had raised 
the spectre of a "regime crisis" if AK were to win, expressed 
dismay at the size of AK's victory.  However, a varied 
spectrum of commentators, from Nazli Ilicak (formerly both 
doyenne of the center-right press and an M.P. with the 
now-closed Islamist Fazilet Party) to reform-minded captains 
of industry Sakip Sabanci and Cem Boyner, publicly 
underscored (1) the legitimacy of the results; and (2) AK's 
standing as a party of the center.  Nazli Ilicak also 
interpreted the result as reflecting Turkish voters' 
aspirations for the kind of equilibrium that a one-party 
government in a two-party parliament can provide. 
PEARSON 

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