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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-03-31

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No. 60/09 31.03.09

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Havadis paper reports that Mr Talat will meet with Mr Ban Ki-moon in Paris
  • [02] German MP calls on Turkey to fulfill its responsibilities regarding the Ankara Additional protocol by the end of 2009
  • [03] A public opinion poll shows that the CTP will win the elections with 33.8%
  • [04] The final number of the registered voters in the elections of 19th April 2009
  • [05] Cakici said that the government wants to silence Kibris paper because of its opposition stance
  • [06] The Development Bank organized a seminar in co-operation with the ADFIMI
  • [07] Official final results of Turkish local elections
  • [08] Turkish daily evaluates the election results
  • [09] Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan left for the Hague for an international conference on Afghanistan
  • [10] The Undersecretaries of Turkey and Israel held a meeting aiming to improve the relations between their countries
  • [11] A summit about Turkey-Afghanistan and Pakistan will take place in Turkey
  • [12] Kemal Dervis was named vice-president of the US Brookings Think Tank Institution
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [13] From the Turkish Press of 30 March 2009

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Havadis paper reports that Mr Talat will meet with Mr Ban Ki-moon in Paris

    Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (31.03.09) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, will meet with the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon. According to diplomatic sources, the meeting will be held in Paris on Friday. Mr Talat and Mr Ban Ki-moon will stay at the same hotel in Paris and they will meet in the afternoon as the Secretary-General of the UN has planned.

    The UN uses this hotel in order to hold their diplomatic meetings in Europe. The diplomatic sources are quoted to have said that Mr Talat and Mr Ban Ki-moon will discuss in the meeting the bargaining, which is going on between the two leaders at the negotiation process. The same sources say that the Turkish Cypriot side may also ask for the mediation of the UN.

    The previous time Mr Talat met with Mr Ban Ki-moon was on the 15th of July, 2008, in Berlin.

    (DPs)

    [02] German MP calls on Turkey to fulfill its responsibilities regarding the Ankara Additional protocol by the end of 2009

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (31.03.09) reports that the German MP of the Social Democratic Party, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Federal Parliament responsible for Turkey and Cyprus affairs, Mr Gerd Andres, who is currently in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus as a guest of the Republican Turkish Party United Forces (CTP-BG), delivered a speech at the illegal Girne American University (GAU) on the latest developments regarding Cyprus in the EU.

    Commenting on the isolations imposed on the Turkish Cypriots, Mr Andres said that they should reach to the solution through the negotiations and not through new perspectives like the ferry-boat trips between North Cyprus Israel which were in the framework of seeking ways for lifting the isolations from the Turkish Cypriots.

    Mr Andres also said that he asked to participate in the negotiation process between the two leaders as a rapporteur, but his proposal was not accepted by the Greek Cypriot side with the argument that an entry was made through an illegal route.

    Moreover, Mr Andres said: We are discussing with the two sides and this is very important for me. When we visited the island last October with the EU delegation we met and discussed with the representatives of both sides.

    On the same issue, Havadis newspaper reports that the German MP Mr Andres, during his speech at the illegal Girne American University, said that the Cyprus problem is related closely to Turkeys accession into the EU and added that Turkey should fulfill its responsibilities from the Ankara Additional protocol by the end of 2009.

    The German MP met yesterday with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. No statement was issued.

    Moreover, Mr Andres met also with the so-called prime minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer. Mr Andres, in a statement during the meeting, said that it was very important for him to get first hand information on the course of the negotiation process and the latest developments concerning the Cyprus problem.

    On his part, Mr Soyer pointed to the importance of bringing a settlement to the Cyprus problem and making it possible for the two communities to join the European Union on the basis of equality. He also said: Such a move will not bring peace to the Turkish Cypriots but also for the Greek Cypriots as well and added that the solution of the Cyprus problem would also remove an artificial obstacle in the way of Turkeys EU membership. Mr Soyer also said that a comprehensive settlement to be found in Cyprus was needed for stability in Europe and the whole region.

    Noting that the Turkish Cypriots would show a desire towards a solution, Mr Soyer said that their aim is to have a referendum by the end of 2009 and a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    (DPs)

    [03] A public opinion poll shows that the CTP will win the elections with 33.8%

    Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (31.03.09) reports that a private research company in Turkey has carried out a public opinion poll regarding the strength of the political parties which will participate in the forthcoming elections in the occupied areas of Cyprus. The poll was carried out between 7 and 15 March and showed that five political parties will manage to enter into the self-styled assembly. The paper does not mention the name of the company and gives no information about the sample.

    According to Vatan, the results of the survey showed that the Republican Turkish Party will win the elections with 33.8% and 19-20 seats in the assembly followed by the National Unity Party (UBP) with 31.6% and 18-19 seats. The results are the following:

    Party Name                   Percentage Possible Number of Seats
    Republican Turkish Party (CTP) 33.8%         19-20
    National Unity Party (UBP)     31.6%         18-19
    Democratic Party (DP)          13.6%          4-6
    Social Democracy Party (TDP)    9.2%          1-3
    Freedom and Reform Party (ORP)  8.6%          1-3
    Others                          3.1%           -
    

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] The final number of the registered voters in the elections of 19th April 2009

    Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (31.03.09) reports that the self-styled Supreme Election Council announced yesterday that the registered number of the voters in the elections of 19th April 2009 is 161.373. According to the announcement, 50.653 persons are registered in the occupied part of Lefkosia, 42.325 in occupied Famagusta, 30.428 in Keryneia, 21.017 in Morfou and 16.950 in Trikomo.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Cakici said that the government wants to silence Kibris paper because of its opposition stance

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (31.03.09) reports that a delegation from the Social Democracy Party (TDP) headed by Mehmet Cakici, chairman of the TDP, visited yesterday the Kibris Media Group and met with Kibris newspapers news director, Ali Baturay, and its news coordinator, Emin Akkor. In his statements, Mr Cakici said that the government wants to silence Kibris newspaper because of its opposition stance. Such pressure exists only in the fascist countries, he noted and wondered: What kind of a pressure has been exerted on this newspaper? Why can Resat Akar not continue his duties?

    In his statements Mr Baturay noted that the fact that a journalist who works in a private company is forced to take a leave after pressure exerted by those who administrate the country will be written in history with black letters.

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] The Development Bank organized a seminar in co-operation with the ADFIMI

    Illegal Bayrak television (30.03.09) broadcast the following:

    The Development Bank has organized a seminar in cooperation with the Association of the National Development Finance Institution in Member Countries of the Islamic Development Bank (ADFIMI), an international institution based in Istanbul.

    Bank managers from Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Malaysia are attending the seminar in Girne (occupied Keryneia).

    The three days seminar is being held under the title, Computer Spreadsheet Analysis for Banking Operations. The aim of the seminar is to impart to the participants the detailed step-by-step process of developing customized computer spreadsheet programs capturing all the real world intricacies and complexities prevalent in the business environment and thus, leading to impeccable financial decisions. In an opening speech, the deputy-Director of the Development Bank Fatma Kinis said that a thorough analyze of data obtained was essential for investment projects and management operations, but pointed out that it was hard to realize this objective in open economies which are fragile.

    Providing information to participants about the TRNC Development Bank, she expressed the belief that the seminar would be a cornerstone for the bank in its efforts towards reaching its objectives.

    For his part, the ADFIMI Secretary General Nuri Birtek briefed the participants about the activities of the institution.

    He said banking and finance institutions from various countries have been exchanging information with international institutions, like the ADFIMI to increase their productivity. At the end of the speeches delivered, presentations were made on various subjects.

    [07] Official final results of Turkish local elections

    All the Turkish newspapers today (31.03.09) report on the final results of the local elections which were held in Turkey on Sunday. Following are the final results as they are published in Turkish dailies Sabah and Hurriyet newspapers:
    PARTY NUMBER OF VOTES PERCENTAGE
    AKP  15.380.502         38.87%
    CHP   9.164.898         23.16%
    MHP   6.379-382         16.12%
    DTP   2.198.692          5.56%
    SP    2.042.957          5.16%
    DP    1.472.415          3.72%
    DSP   1.090.781          2.76%
    BBP     880.818          2.23%
    ANAP    299.135          0.76%
    Total number of  registered voters 48.033.247
    Number of voters 40.441.391
    Valid votes 39.569.743
    Participation rate: 84.19%
    

    AK Party: Justice and Development Party, CHP: Republican People's Party, MHP: Nationalist Action Party, DTP: Democratic Society Party, SP: Felicity Party, DSP: Democratic Left Party, DP: Democrat Party, BBP: Grand Unity Party, ANAP: Motherland Party

    (AK)

    [08] Turkish daily evaluates the election results

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (31.03.09) publishes the following report about the election held in Turkey on the 29th of March:

    The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) clearly won Sunday's election for municipalities but for the first time since it came to power in 2002 saw its votes shrink. Contrary to widespread expectations that it could even exceed 50 percent, the AK Party won 39 percent of the vote in provincial assembly elections across Turkey, representing a two point decline from the last local elections in 2004 and an eight point retreat as compared to 2007's general elections.

    In Istanbul the AK Party's candidate for mayor, the incumbent Kadir Topba, won again but only after a mostly unforeseen tight race with his closest rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the secularist opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Topbas almost maintained the level of support he secured in the previous elections, winning 44.3 percent of the vote, while Kilicdaroglu increased the CHP votes by 8 percent as compared to 2004.

    An overall assessment of the results show that the CHP, which won 23 percent of the vote at national level, is not the only party which saw a boost: The pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) increased the number of municipalities it controls in the Southeast despite the AK Party's intense efforts to expand influence there; the Islamic Felicity Party (SP) more than doubled its tally, getting most of its newfound votes from the AK Party's most devout citizens; and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), which won 16 percent of all votes, snatched several municipalities from the AK Party in central-western Anatolia and increased its overall votes by almost 6 percent over 2004.

    Looking at the current results, it is not satisfactory, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a midnight press conference at party headquarters. The 39 percent vote his party won is equal to the amount of votes the AK Partys two closest rivals garnered combined, and Erdogan said the results were indicative of the continued confidence in his party. But he underlined that there was a message in the results. He added that his party would read this message appropriately and review its policies accordingly.

    This is a message from the people, and we will learn the necessary lessons. We believe it is important to take lessons from both successes and failures, said Erdogan. He seemed particularly downcast that the DTP increased the number of municipalities it controls in the Southeast and that the Mediterranean province of Antalya, one of Turkeys 12 greater municipalities which is also a busy tourist center, voted to replace its current mayor with the CHPs candidate despite all the good work that the AK Party-controlled municipality did in the city.

    Erdogan did not elaborate on how he would review the policies but said a Cabinet reshuffle was possible. A Cabinet reshuffle is possible, though not necessarily related to the election results, he said.

    Some of the Cabinet ministers, most of who have been in office since 2002, are expected to be replaced with newcomers. Speculation is that at least eight ministers will be out of the Cabinet following a reshuffle. The election results may take their toll on some deputies as well. Deputies and ministers from Van, Kastamonu, Diyarbakir, Balikesir and Manisa are particularly expected to have tough days ahead following the AK Partys defeats there.

    Despite the decrease in votes, the AK Party remains undisputedly the biggest party in Turkey. Erdogan said his party is strong all across the country, while its rivals control only certain regions. Although it lost Antalya and some southeastern provinces, the AK Party found solace in winning back the Black Sea province of Trabzon and the northeastern province of Ardahan from the CHP.

    What went wrong?

    The poll results are a wake-up call for the government to return to reforms with renewed energy, deal more effectively with the economic crisis and review its Kurdish policy. A Cabinet reshuffle may also follow.

    But despite its clear victory, the results were widely interpreted as a setback because Erdogan had set a higher objective than 39 percent in his election campaign and said he would consider it a failure if the AK Party received less than the 47 percent of votes it won in the 2007 parliamentary elections. Analysts say it was a rather unrealistic goal amid the economic crisis, which has brought unemployment rates to 13.6 percent and pushed the economy towards recession.

    The government has widely played down the global crisis, saying its effects on the Turkish economy were insignificant. Critics said it was too slow in reacting to the weakening global economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Turkey have been in talks for months on a deal markets say is key to shielding the Turkish economy from the global crisis. The IMF talks process is expected to speed up following the elections.

    The AK Party won the record-high 47 percent in 2007 amid military efforts to force it out of power. The high rate of support for the AK Party was widely seen as a reaction against the military meddling in politics.

    Public disappointment with a slowdown in reforms is also a possible factor. The AK Party pledged to rewrite the Constitution, drafted by the military in 1982, following its historic win in 2007 but took a step back from its pledges when the CHP threatened to block its reform efforts.

    In the Southeast, the AK Party campaigned aggressively, hoping that a clear win there against the DTP would wipe out Kurdish separatism. But most analysts now agree that this aggressive style may well have provoked the voters in the region and played into the hands of the DTP. Commenting on the election results, DTP leader Ahmet Turk said yesterday that the votes the AK Party won in 2004 and 2007 were entrusted to the AK Party but that the people took them back when the AK Party failed to take steps towards resolving the Kurdish issue.

    Erdogan said at his press conference that his party had put priority on providing services, while other parties campaigned on the basis of identity, in apparent reference to the DTP.

    [09] Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan left for the Hague for an international conference on Afghanistan

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (30.03.09) reports the following:

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan left for The Hague on Monday to participate in an international conference on Afghanistan. Babacan did not make a statement before his departure.

    The "International Conference on Afghanistan: a Comprehensive Strategy in a Regional Context" will be held on Tuesday under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). More than 80 countries and international organizations have been invited to the conference.

    The conference is expected to focus on political, security and development issues in Afghanistan and its vicinity; and possible upcoming policy choices.

    After the conference in The Hague, Babacan will proceed to Brussels for a Turkey-European Union (EU) Joint Parliamentary Committee meeting to take place between March 31 and April 2. Babacan will address lawmakers in a dinner on Tuesday evening. This committee meeting will be the last one before the European Parliament (EP) elections due on June 4-7.

    [10] The Undersecretaries of Turkey and Israel held a meeting aiming to improve the relations between their countries

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (30.03.09) reports the following:

    Turkish and Israeli diplomats met in undersecretary level for the first time on Monday after attacks in Gaza and the Davos crisis. The talks aimed at normalizing relations between Turkey and Israel.

    Diplomatic sources said Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ertugrul Apakan and his Israeli counterpart Yossi Gal met in Ankara within the scope of regular political negotiations held once in every six months.

    Following an earlier meeting in Brussels last week between Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, Israeli party emphasized the importance attached to relations with Turkey and expressed willingness to boost cooperation despite difference of opinions on various matters. The parties took up ways to improve bilateral relations, as well as regional matters.

    Israeli delegation later met with Ahmet Davutoglu, the foreign policy advisor of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    [11] A summit about Turkey-Afghanistan and Pakistan will take place in Turkey

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (30.03.09) reports the following from Ankara:

    Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral summit will take place in the Turkish capital of Ankara on April 1.

    Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari will participate in the summit to be hosted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Turkeys Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will also attend the summit.

    [12] Kemal Dervis was named vice-president of the US Brookings Think Tank Institution

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (30.03.09) reports the following:

    Kemal Dervis, former administrator of the United Nations Development Program, has been named as a vice-president and the director of the Global Economy and Development program at the Washington-based think-tank, the Brookings Institution.

    Institution's president, Strobe Talbott, said Monday Dervis was set to replace Lael Brainard, who has been nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama to be undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs. "I am delighted that a scholar and statesman of Kemal's stature, experience, and expertise has agreed to succeed Lael," Talbott said.

    Dervis run the UNDP from August 2005 through February 2009, and he also chaired the UN Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all U.N. funds, programs and departments focused on development issues at the country level. "I am delighted to be joining Brookings, especially at a moment of such importance," Dervis said.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [13] From the Turkish Press of 30 March 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries on last Sundays local elections from the Turkish press on 30 March 2009:

    Hurriyet carries an editorial entitled "According to initial results," by Oktay Eksi who writes that the outcome of the local elections has clearly shown that voter support for the ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, is dwindling. Eksi ascribes the AKP's disappointing performance in the elections to the global economic crisis, its policy aimed at exacerbating political tension, and Erdogan's attempts to dictate its terms to his opponents.

    In an article entitled "These results should teach a lesson to all," Hurriyet columnist Mehmet Yilmaz says that the AKP has suffered a decline in the number of votes it received in the local elections because Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan adopted an argumentative style as if he was the leader of an opposition party. He comments: "The decline in the number of votes which reached seven percentage points will certainly not trigger debates over his leadership within his party because he is still powerful and the AKP was able to poll twice the number of votes won by its two rivals because of Erdogan's personal sway. Now the AKP faces two options: it will either maintain its crisis policy which it has been pursuing since the last general election and to see its votes drop to 30 percent in the next elections or formulate a new policy by learning from its mistakes." Yilmaz also argues that Republican People's Party, CHP, leader Deniz Baykal should step down in order to enable his party to become an alternative to the ruling party.

    Hurriyet Daily News.com in English carries an unattributed editorial entitled "Not the Finest Moment of Turkish Democracy" which says that the local elections will not go down in the record books as an election in which Turkish democracy distinguished itself. It notes: "It was rather a national election undertaken by local proxies for the national party leaderships. Even mayoral candidates in Turkey are handpicked by the national party chairmen, an insult to the notion of local and regional authority to deal with local issues." Pointing out that one source hope is the post-election agenda in Ankara which appears to represent a consensus among all the major parties for carrying out a constitutional reform and ensuring stronger protection for human rights, the editorial concludes by saying: " We can only hope that those commitments will not waver, and that the coming period of reform will ensure a more optimistic column the next time we are writing on election day."

    Milliyet carries an article entitled "What do election results tell us" by Taha Akyol who says that the AKP polled less than it did in the last local election although the decline in the number of votes it received was not significant. He comments: "The history of elections show that if there is a decline in the number of votes won by a ruling party, the same trend will continue in subsequent elections. Yesterday's elections served as a warning to the AKP and an alarm bell for the general election scheduled for 2011." Akyol says that Prime Minister Recep Erdogan should abandon its angry and argumentative attitude and focus his attention on economic issues.

    In an article entitled "The first warning to the AKP," Milliyet columnist Fikret Bila points out that the current economic crisis was one of the important factors behind the decline in the number of votes received by the AKP. Noting that the outcome of the elections showed that the policy followed by the CHP during the election campaign of its candidates was more successful as compared with previous elections, Bila says: "The CHP refrained from laying emphasis on secularism and headscarf and formulated a strategy focusing on economic problems and corruption while winning the hearts and minds of women covering their heads and it proved successful."

    Sabah carries an article entitled "Details of the picture" by Erdal Safak who argues that the results of the local elections may lead to the emergence of blocs in the political system which, he notes, may have positive and negative ramifications. Pointing out that a compromise on anticipated constitutional amendments have become inevitable after the elections, Safak also emphasizes that the southeastern part of the country will come under the spotlight because of DTP's strong showing in Kurdish-populated cities. He says: "The DTP turned this election into a referendum about the recognition of the Kurdish identity and rights. Election returns show that it has been successful. Its success has placed the DTP among likely candidates with which dialogue will be established in order to resolve the Kurdish question. In other words, it has strengthened the hands of those who argue that no solution could be found without the DTP's involvement." Emphasizing that the PKK has also increased its influence in the southeast, Safak concludes by saying: "Cards will be shuffled especially in the Southeast after this election."

    Radikal carries an article entitled "And Erdogan gets his first taste of defeat" by Murat Yetkin who says that Turkish voters gave a very clear message to the AKP and Erdogan, advising him to refrain from taking authoritarian or Peronist attitudes. Emphasizing that the opposition parties will probably call for an early election in light of the outcome of the local elections, Yetkin says: "The Prime Minister would not want to call a snap election at a time when his fall from the top has begun. But, Erdogan must balance and soften both his policy and statements without delay. The results showed to the Turkish public and the international community that the AKP is not the only option in Turkey as predicted by CHP leader Deniz Baykal and MHP leader Devlet Bahceli."

    In an article entitled "Stalingrad," Radikal columnist Ismet Berkan points out that it is not possible to say that the CHP and the MHP has achieved a decisive victory in spite of an increase in the number of votes they have received because they still trail the AKP by a wide margin. Berkan ascribes the decline in voter support for the AKP to its indifference to the economic crisis and its effects, Erdogan's argumentative attitude, and interventions in people's life styles. Berkan advises the AKP leadership to take a conciliatory attitude in order to alleviate political tension and to try to seek opportunities to cooperate with the opposition parties in order to find a solution to economic problems.

    Vatan carries an article entitled "The DTP is the only winner" by Okay Gonensin who says that the election results confirmed that the DTP is the representative of citizens of Kurdish origin. He adds that the AKP received a warning which should not be interpreted as a message that it should quit while the CHP showed once again that it is not capable of reaching out to voters in all parts of the country in spite of the fact that it increased its votes in cities where anti-AKP sentiments are running high.

    In an article entitled "An era has come to an end", Vatan columnist Rusen Cakir argues that the AKP has suffered a defeat in the local elections while the CHP, MHP, and the DTP emerged victorious. Pointing out that the election results in the southeast indicated that the AKP's Kurdish policy has failed in the face of the DTP's policy focusing on ethnic identity, Cakir ascribes the AKP's poor showing to the economic crisis, Erdogan's mistakes in choosing candidates, and increasing polarization in society. He concludes by saying: "The local elections held on 29 March closed an era which had been continuing since November 2002. It is difficult to predict what may happen in the future for the time being."

    Cumhuriyet carries an article entitled "An analysis of election returns," in which Cumhuriyet columnist Hikmet Cetinkaya emphasizes that effort to resolve the Kurdish question by means of "Kurdish-Islam synthesis" failed in the face of ethnic nationalism. Pointing out that the AKP won fewer votes than it did in the previous election in spite of the fact that the opposition parties could not pursue effective policies and that the election results may lead to the emergence of a new political party which could win the next election, Cetinkaya says: "Has the AKP been successful or unsuccessful? This picture indicates that it certainly is. The only reason for its success is the CHP and the MHP. Those two parties have been unsuccessful. The AKP, therefore, seems to have achieved a successful result."

    Taraf daily publishes an article entitled "Voters Have Fine-tuned the AKP" by Markar Esayan who says that election return have vindicated arguments that disillusioned voters affected by the economic crisis would vote for the strongest rivals of AKP candidates. Stressing that the election results cannot only be explained by economic factors, Esayan says that the DTP's decisive victory against the AKP in some Kurdish-populated cities has resulted from purely ideological reasons and disappointment among Kurdish voters stemming from the AKP's policy toward Kurds. Esayan also notes that the AKP's unexpectedly strong showing in the general election in 2007 resulted from the military's ultimatum issued on 27 April 2007, an anti-AKP campaign launched by pro-secular groups, and the Constitutional Court's ruling about the presidential election, adding that yesterday's election returns showed the actual level of the AKP's popularity under normal conditions. He says: "The AKP must draw conclusions from the election results in order to avoid demise and get itself back on the rails of democracy by using various leverages such as accession to the EU and constitutional amendments."

    Yeni Safak carries an article entitled "How rationally did voters behave?" by Yasin Aktay who links "the serious loss of votes that the AKP appears to have sustained" in the local elections to "a choice of candidates that bypassed local democratic processes in certain constituencies." Aktay calls attention to "reports that blocks of voters refrained from going to polling stations in many places in order to get across a [warning] message to the AKP." He also claims that "the election results look set to pave the way for some strong self-criticism" within certain parties.

    Anadolu'da Vakit carries an article entitled "CHP: The Choice of Ergenekon Suspects" by Ali Ihsan Karahasanoglu who says that it would be an exaggeration to claim that the AKP has been totally unsuccessful in the elections. He asserts that the AKP should be thankful for the results of the 29 March elections because its performance means that the global crunch has had a restricted impact on the outcome of the election. He goes on to claim that the combined votes of the AKP, the Felicity Party, SP, and the Grand Unity Party, BBP, should be taken as a parameter by which to assess the overall amount of public support for political parties that express "libertarian" views on the headscarf issue, imam-hatip schools, Koran courses, etc. He also asserts that the CHP emerged victorious from "ballot boxes where Ergenekon suspects cast their votes," adding that "if those who have been put on trial for conspiring to stage a military takeover support the CHP," this party should consider replacing the word "republican" in its name.

    In an article entitled "Who won the elections?" Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak cites the AKP as the winner of the 29 March elections and lists the Ergenekon network, "Ergenekon lawyer Deniz Baykal," and "neo-nationalists" as being among the "losers." He claims that Prime Minister Erdogan has emerged strong from the elections, adding that the results mean that "social consensus" has been achieved on the need to change the Constitution. He says: "In conclusion, voters maintained their support for the AKP which lost votes while it was in power while the CHP lost votes in opposition."

    Zaman carries an article entitled "An election where everybody is winner and loser" by Bulent Korucu who criticizes the AKP for "setting the bar of success in the elections rather too high," adding that it should have acted more realistically during a time of global economic crisis and define "more modest targets." Korucu claims that it failed to explain the meaning of its Kurdish initiatives to voters in the southeast as well as underestimating reaction to these initiatives from electors in the West, and that it has relied too heavily on the rally performance of its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, instead of the joint work of its provincial branches. He says: "Whether or not the opposition parties will attempt to prepare the ground for an early election will indicate whether they are satisfied with their showing. I do not think that they will make such an attempt because the AKP seems to have polled as much as the number of votes received by those two parties."

    Today's Zaman carries an article entitled "What's next?" by Ihsan Dagi who predicts "a new wave of reform" after a local election whose results "will not dramatically change Turkey's political landscape." He proceeds to call on the AKP to "take some bold measures" to solve "long-term problems" like the Kurdish, Armenian, and Cyprus issues and problems in "civilian-military relations."

    Under the banner headline, "AKP obtains vote of confidence despite crisis," Yeni Safak publishes a front-page report which interprets the results of the local elections held yesterday as meaning that the ruling AKP has maintained its share of the vote on the whole. The AKP has polled more votes than the main opposition Republican People's Party, CHP, and the Nationalist Action Party, MHP, put together, the report says.

    Also front-paged is a report entitled "AKP retains strongholds," which highlights the "election victories" of AKP candidates for mayor of Ankara and Istanbul, Melih Gokcek and Kadir Topbas.

    In an article entitled "A sad election", Yeni Safak Editor-in-Chief Yusuf Ziya Comert claims that while the initial results of the local elections suggest that public confidence in the AKP continues, the outcome appears to have been impacted by the behavior of "voters who were left without a party to support when center right parties collapsed in the 22 July elections," adding that the MHP seems to have received considerable support from these voters.

    Under the banner headline, "Votes cast for candidates," Vakit carries a front-page report which asserts that electors voted for mayor candidates rather than political parties in yesterday's local elections. According to the report, the results indicate a two point decrease in public support for the AKP, and a five point and two point increase in the MHP and the Felicity Party's shares of the vote respectively.

    Under the headline, "A separate message for every party," Zaman runs a front-page report which draws the following conclusions from the election results: 1. The AKP maintains its 2004 share of the vote. Voters have warned the AKP about its choice of candidates. 2. The CHP has been successful in metropolises. The CHP has won public support over its initiatives and its withdrawal from regime debates. 3. Voters have got across to the MHP the message that it should maintain its "democratic" stance.

    In a news analysis entitled "Candidates lower AKP performance", Zaman writer Omer Sahin argues that the outcome of the local elections amounts to a "yellow card" for the AKP and notes that the election results do not meet AKP leader Erdogan's "success criteria" of 42 or 47 percent [the results of the past two elections]. He claims that the results indicate that voters in the southeast endorse "identity policies" and that the AKP has been wrong in assuming that it could obtain the support of voters of Kurdish origin by launching a Kurdish language television station and cracking down on the "terrorist" Ergenekon network.

    In a "news analysis" entitled "Warning for the AKP, no green light for the opposition", Zaman writer Mustafa Unal asserts that while the results of the local elections include a cautionary message for the AKP, "this is not a warning strong enough to threaten the AKP's ability to continue to remain in power" because voters have not given the green light to either the CHP or the MHP in lowering support for the AKP. He also reads the results as a confirmation of the rule that "power weakens the ruling party."

    Under the headline, "AK party wins local polls but loses its strength," Today's Zaman publishes a front-page report which quotes "observers" as saying that public support for the AKP has "slightly" decreased because of "record unemployment and a worsening economy."

    EG/


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