US embassy cable - 02ANKARA7921

TURKEY: AK PARTY'S LANDSLIDE VICTORY SWEEPS ASIDE DISCREDITED PARTY LEADERS

Identifier: 02ANKARA7921
Wikileaks: View 02ANKARA7921 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ankara
Created: 2002-11-05 14:39:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL PINR 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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 007921 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/05/2012 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PINR, TU, POLITICAL PARTIES 
SUBJECT: TURKEY: AK PARTY'S LANDSLIDE VICTORY SWEEPS ASIDE 
DISCREDITED PARTY LEADERS 
 
 
REF: A. ANKARA 7766 
     B. ANKARA 6880 
 
 
(U) Classified by Political Counselor John Kunstadter. 
Reasons: 1.5(b)(d). 
 
 
1. (C) Summary: After crushing defeat by AK in Nov. 3 
elections, leaders of MHP, ANAP, and DYP, all of which failed 
to reenter Parliament, separately declared their intent to 
vacate their party chairmanships.  With P.M. Ecevit's 
pre-election announcement that he will leave DSP leadership 
in April 2003, these resignations -- assuming they hold -- 
mark a significant watershed in Turkish politics.  Whether 
any of these parties can rebuild into a credible alternative 
to AK remains an open question, but to be successful, any 
center-right party must represent, and act on, Anatolian 
interests.  End Summary. 
 
 
-------------- 
House-cleaning 
-------------- 
 
 
2. (C) In wake of the overwhelming election victory of R. 
Tayyip Erdogan's Islam-influenced Justice and Development 
(AK) Party (ref A), demoralized leaders of Turkey's 
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and center-right Motherland 
(ANAP) and True Path (DYP) parties have signaled their 
intention to step aside.  Even before the Supreme Election 
Board (YSK) had finished counting the ballots evening of Nov. 
3, right-wing MHP leader Devlet Bahceli publicly accepted 
personal responsibility for his party's defeat and announced 
that he would not run for the MHP chairmanship at the 
extraordinary party congress to be held in early 2003 (ref 
A).  Nov. 4 Tansu Ciller, whose DYP narrowly missed the 10% 
national vote threshold to enter Parliament, issued a written 
statement that she would summon a party congress and would 
not be a candidate for leader.  ANAP leader Mesut Yilmaz 
subsequently declared that "in order to clear the path for a 
restructuring of the center-right," he will soon quit both 
ANAP and active politics.  ANAP is expected to hold a 
convention in Dec. to pick a new chairman. 
 
 
------------------------------- 
Comment: Cold Weather Coming On 
------------------------------- 
 
 
3. (C) The resignations, unprecedented in Turkish political 
history, illustrate the size of the AK victory and its effect 
on the current political class, which is beginning to 
recognize for the first time the need to renew itself...or at 
least to appear to be doing so. 
 
 
4. (C) Some of the resignees might seek to emulate opposition 
leader Deniz Baykal, who resigned his Republican People's 
Party (CHP) chairmanship after its disastrous showing in the 
1999 elections but left enough of his supporters in key party 
positions to ensure his eventual resurrection as party 
leader.  Whether any could succeed is an open question. 
Ciller would face a challenge by former diplomat and 
presidential foreign policy advisor Mehmet Ali Bayar, who has 
the backing of former President Suleyman Demirel, DYP's 
founder.  For his part, Bahceli would be confronted with an 
angry and hostile party machine that sees him as soft on 
existential MHP principles and as an idiosyncratic 
personality unsuited for leadership (ref B).  For ANAP, the 
tasks confronting any pretender to Yilmaz' vacated throne are 
even more daunting.  A successor must deal expeditiously with 
those Yilmaz cronies who undoubtedly will try to stick 
around, even as he struggles to salvage an ANAP -- which, 
unlike DYP and MHP, appears to have lost its core support to 
AK -- on the verge of extinction.  Similarly, the Democratic 
Left Party (DSP), for decades the personal vehicle of the 
Ecevits, is -- like its leader -- heading toward political 
oblivion. 
 
 
5. (C) Bottom line: Turkey remains a predominantly 
conservative center-right country with a clear sense of 
Muslim identity, however variegated.  In short, the voices of 
Anatolia, whether in the greater urban sprawl of Istanbul or 
the heartland "Green Belt", will insist on being heard.  To 
flourish in the longer run, therefore, any revived or new 
center-right party will, like AK, have to represent Anatolian 
realities and aspirations. 
PEARSON 

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