Nationalists not amused by pro-women poster .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ANKARA - A woman organization’s campaign showing the photo of three political parties' leaders arm in arm in a spoof poster to support women in local elections has been taken to the court.

Some 1,376 billboards were adorned with photos showing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arm in arm with opposition leaders, Deniz Baykal and Devlet Bahçeli, as part of the campaign launched by the Association for the Education and Support of Female Candidates, or KADER.

The move was an effort to support further female representation in the upcoming local elections in March.

Under the photo the banner read: "All three of us have the same view: our target is to have women make up 50 percent of candidates for local administrations." The photo, however, was a fictional one prepared for a billboard campaign to criticize the 1 percent presence of women in local administrations and the political parties’ lack of commitment to boosting female representation in politics.

The Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, meanwhile, took the issue to court and filed a case against KADER for not getting permission from the MHP to use the visual material and poster, according to the private television channel CNNTürk. The MHP also said the billboards overshadowed the political competition, as Erdoğan was portrayed as more powerful in the picture and seemed to have taken other political leaders under his wing.

Positive public response
Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, KADER Chairperson Hülya Gülbahar said despite the incredibly positive public response to the campaign, it was unfortunate for a political party to overlook the innocent, well-intentioned and partially humorous message given in the billboards and took the issue to court based merely on a technical detail in the photo. It was also unfortunate for other political parties not to give necessary messages in encouraging female nominations in the local elections and not to support the campaign despite positive reaction. "We didn’t intend to harm any political leader with our campaign. We just wanted to show that women's representation in politics and local administrations is so far from what it should be," Gülbahar said.

"The political parties’ reluctance and ignorance in receiving this message, on the other hand, show how the situation is desperate in terms of women for the coming election periods in five and 10 years," she noted.

The case filed by the MHP will be a kind of test for Turkish democracy and freedom of speech, according to her. KADER wants the implementation of quotas to female candidates to ensure further presence of women in politics. KADER also criticized the MHP’s move in a written statement yesterday.