Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07ANKARA1975
2007-08-01 15:07:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Ankara
Cable title:  

TURKEY: A GUL PRESIDENCY: DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN?

Tags:  PGOV TU 
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VZCZCXRO8211
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHAK #1975/01 2131507
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 011507Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3233
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU//TCH//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001975 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/29/2017
TAGS: PGOV TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: A GUL PRESIDENCY: DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN?

REF: ISTANBUL 690

Classified By: A/Political Counselor Kelly Degnan for reasons 1.4(b),(d
)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001975

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/29/2017
TAGS: PGOV TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: A GUL PRESIDENCY: DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN?

REF: ISTANBUL 690

Classified By: A/Political Counselor Kelly Degnan for reasons 1.4(b),(d
)


1. (C) Summary and comment. Turkish MPs are readying for the
next major contest: electing a new president. So far, it is
deja vu all over again, with FM Abdullah Gul still the front
runner despite his failed attempt in April. Gul supporters
-- and even some opposition -- contend the Justice and
Development Party's (AKP) convincing election victory gives
AKP the right to put Gul forward again. Others want AKP to
seek a less contentious candidate but seem resigned to Gul
being elected and the tensions that will likely follow. Gul
is holding Erdogan to his pledge to back Gul unless he
chooses to withdraw. He has declined to do so, fueling
speculation of a power struggle between the two leaders.
Erdogan, who has neither rejected Gul nor robustly endorsed
his candidacy, has stated publicly that AKP will submit a
list of consensus candidates.


2. (C) Summary and comment cont'd. It will be at least two
weeks before parliament initates presidential elections -- a
long time in politics. If Gul stays in the race, he will
likely win on the third round of voting. Few expect that to
end the political maneuvering that has roiled Turkey for
months, and many of our contacts are bracing for further
tumult as the military and others react to a pious president
with a headscarf-wearing wife in the presidential palace.
End Summary and comment.

TO RUN OR NOT TO RUN
--------------

3. (C) Gul has coyly avoided confirming that he is a
presidential candidate, though many Turks interpret his
recent statements to mean just that. With AKP's 46.6% win in
the July 22 parliamentary elections, Gul claims he has the
public's backing and cannot ignore the masses who called for
his presidency at campaign rallies around the country. His
supporters say his withdrawal would be a defeat for
democracy. Erdogan, who made Gul's victimization a pillar of
the AKP campaign, has stuck to his pledge to support Gul
unless Gul withdraws, but has also vowed to avoid further
polarization and act as a centrist party protecting the
interests of all Turks. Erdogan's outreach to other party
leaders and comments that the candidate will be decided by

consensus have sitrred speculation that Erdogan and Gul are
at odds. By keeping his name in the ring, Gul has
complicated Erdogan's task of finding consensus, since
virtually all opposition parties have rejected Gul's
candidacy.


4. (C) If Gul stays in the running, he is expected to win.
Opposition Nationalist Action Party (MHP) leader Devlet
Bahceli has said his party's 70 MPs will attend the voting,
assuring that AKP will meet the 367 quorum requirement that
scotched Gul's April presidential attempt. Pro-Kurdish
Democratic Society Party (DTP) MPs also have indicated they
will attend. Neither MHP nor DTP MPs want to pay the price
the Democratic Party (DP) suffered at the ballot box for its
members' boycott of the April vote, which DP's leader Mehmet
Agar admitted was a huge mistake. If, as they claim, MHP and
DTP MPs attend the session, the 367 quorum will be present;
with 341 seats, AKP has the votes to elect Gul on the third
round, when an absolute majority (184) is required.

IF NOT GUL, THEN WHO?
--------------

5. (C) Other than Gul, no names have surfaced yet. Those
mentioned before April, such as Vecdi Gonul, Vahit Erdem and
Koksal Toptan, are now considered likely candidates for
Speaker. Erdogan has called on other parties to offer
candidates but so far only MHP's Bahceli has said his party
will do so. Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz
Baykal has promised to attend the vote, but only if a
candidate is nominated with CHP consent. He has offered no
names to date. Democratic Left Party's (DSP) Zeki Sezer said
his party's 13 MPs, under CHP's umbrella, will not support
Gul's candidacy, prefering a candidate from outside
parliament. Those hoping Gul will withdraw are convinced
acceptable AKP alternatives exist, but name no names. They
view the electon as a test of how AKP's old guard, including
Erdogan and Gul, will respond to AKP's new, more centrist
members who may push for a consensus candidate to ease

ANKARA 00001975 002 OF 002


tensions.

AND IF GUL, THEN WHAT?
--------------

6. (C) A Gul presidency would put AKP back in conflict with
the military and secular establishment, albeit with a
stronger hand. In April, the military responded to Gul's
candidacy with an e-memorandum that fueled massive
pro-secular rallies and led to early general elections.
While the broader public apparently didn't buy the "threat to
the Republic" campaign tactic, the stakes are the same now
for the military. CHOD General Buyukanit reiterated on July
30 the military's stance that the president must embody the
Republic's principles in essence, not just in words. Gul did
not meet the military's mark then and Turks are divided over
what, if anything, has changed, post-AKP victory. Some
maintain that Gul will continue to be a source of conflict
between the government and the military not only because of
his wife's headscarf but because of the veto and appointment
powers he would hold as president. Many (fewer after AKP's
resounding victory) expect the military will find a way to
sabotage Gul's candidacy or, if elected, his presidency.
Working through the opposition, university rectors or the
judiciary to disable or discredit him is one likely tactic;
the former Chief Prosecutor who started the 367 quorum debate
opined July 31 that Gul, who will lose his parliamentary
immunity if elected president, would be indicted on
allegations stemming from his Welfare Party days. The
public's possible reaction to another military interference
in the political process might make the method more subtle
but, as one military-linked contact said, somehow, somewhere
the military will respond.

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

MCELDOWNEY