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06ANKARA3759 2006-06-27 12:21:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
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1. (C) Octogenarian leftist Rahsan Ecevit --- a former MP,
founder of the Democratic Left Party (DSP), and the wife of
former PM Bulent Ecevit (currently in a stroke-induced coma)
--- is continuing her husband,s efforts to unite the secular
opposition parties against the governing, pro-Islam Justice
and Development Party (AKP). Rahsan Ecevit met on June 26
with former president (and fellow octogenarian) Suleyman
Demirel --- who is leading his own efforts to unite various
political parties and leaders on the center right --- and is
scheduled to meet on June 27 with center-left Republican
People,s Party (CHP) Chairman Deniz Baykal. Former
Motherland Party (ANAP) PM Mesut Yilmaz was also recently
cleared of corruption allegations and Hurriyet political
journalist Sukru Kucuksahin recently told us that Yilmaz will
try to return to the political arena.

2. (C) The Ecevits, Demirel, Baykal, and Yilmaz have been
sparring with each other for decades and have shown an
unfailing inability to cooperate. The consensus among
political science professors quoted in an article in
Cumhuriyet newspaper is that a grand alliance of center-right
and center-left secular parties against AKP is impossible.
Pro-AKP government Yeni Safak newspaper reported Rahsan
Ecevit,s meeting with Demirel under the sarcastic headline
"Good News: Rahsan is on the job." One AKP MP speculated
such efforts could actually help AKP by further dividing its
already-feckless opposition.

3. (C) Comment. We expect talk of electoral alliances and
party mergers to continue, but at this point this appears
little more than talk. The larger opposition parties ---
CHP, True Path Party (DYP), and Nationalist Action Party
(MHP) --- would love to absorb their smaller rivals as part
of a one-sided merger, but have little inclination to
cooperate with each other or the smaller parties by forming
an electoral alliance (reftel). The smaller opposition
parties that are clearly below the 10 percent electoral
threshold may flirt with mergers and alliances, but their
maneuvers at this point appear unlikely to have a significant
impact. End Comment.

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