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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07ANKARA1797 2007-07-16 06:08:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
Cable title:  

DEMOCRAT PARTY LEADER AGAR BETS ON THE POWER OF

Tags:   PGOV PREL TU 
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1. (C) Summary and comment. In a July 13 meeting, Democrat
Party (DP) leader Mehmet Agar told the Ambassador he is
optimistic that DP can win enough votes to cross Turkey's ten
percent threshold and secure parliamentary seats in the July
22 general elections. Agar is counting on solid media
coverage in the crucial final week to help get DP's message
out and stoke the party's momentum. With polls showing DP
winning between 4 and 9 percent of the vote, Agar will need
more than positive thinking to make it across the victory
line. End summary and comment.



2. (C) Agar admitted that DP initially had a hard time
recovering from the botched merger of the True Path Party
(DYP) and the Motherland Party (Anavatan) that was to have
produced DP as the center-right alternative to the ruling
Justice and Development Party (AKP). In the end, DYP became
DP and Anavatan declined to join. Agar claimed that the
campaign has gained ground in the last ten days, with DP
benefiting from misfiring tactics by other parties. Agar
cited, in particular, National Action Party (MHP) rhetoric to
reinstate the death penalty in order to execute terrorist PKK
leader Abdullah Ocalan as pushing voters DP's way. The party
will have to attract substantial media attention next week to
pull in the votes needed to cross the ten percent threshold,
he stressed. "If we can get media support, we won't have a
threshold problem," he predicted.



3. (C) Agar is convinced Turkey needs DP in the next
parliament to help the country overcome the current
polarization over the Kurdish issue and the secular-religious
divide. He described AKP as suffering "complexes" toward the
military, secularists, the EU and the US that make it weak.
"We need to normalize the situation in Turkey," he said, or
we will continue to face religious and ethnic issues that are
not good for Turkey. By calming conditions in the southeast,
Turkey can contribute to stabilizing Iraq. A cross-border
operation now would be illogical, he said, although
provocations against Turkey must stop. Turks cannot ignore
the deaths of "martyred" soldiers. On the key electorate
issues of unemployment and security, Agar is confident DP's
policies will win over voters. "DP has sensible programs for
Turkey; without DP in parliament, there won't be stability in
Turkey," he said.



4. (C) DP is pro-EU and pro-US, according to Agar. EU
membership is important to Turkey's continued modernization
and must be pursued so that Turkey can serve as a convincing
model of democracy and economic integration for Syria,
Azerbajian, Armenia, Georgia and other neighbors. Good
relations with the EU are not enough, Agar said; Turkey needs
strong relations with the US, too. In particular, Turkey and
the US must work together to counter Russia's pipeline
aspirations. Agar also endorsed good relations with Israel
as one way Turkey can contribute to Middle East stability.



5. (C) Post-election, Agar predicted Turkey will stabilize if
the election produces a "balance". A two-party parliament
will face problems over the presidential election. With DP
joining CHP and AKP (and possibly others), a consensus
presidential candidate would be possible. Agar said the next
prime minister must be experienced, with the authority
necessary to stand firm and deal effectively with the
military and other state agencies. Turkey needs leaders who
can keep the military out of government and show real
political will to lead, he said.



6. (C) Agar attributed the failed merger between DYP and
Anavatan to Anavatan's unwillingness to close the party and
join forces with DYP under the DP banner. Anavatan had
internal problems that prevented Erkan Mumcu from doing so,
he said. The merger had brought a certain amount of
center-right unity, since many Anavatan hopefuls are running
as DP candidates.



7. (C) Agar has a heavy schedule leading up to the July 22
vote, including a July 14 rally in Istanbul he expects will
attract 100,000 supporters. DP has put forward a reasonable,
progressive platform (reftel), but Agar's complicated past
and the party's shaky start may hobble DP's chances to cross

ANKARA 00001797 002 OF 002


the threshold.

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

WILSON