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Ex-Erdogan aide Babacan creates new rival party in Turkey

March 10, 2020 at 1:32 pm

Ali Babacan, Turkish politician and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2009. [Wikimedia]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s former deputy prime minister has created a new party to rival that of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), following months of anticipation after he and other former ministers split from the party.

Ali Babacan, who was previously leading Turkey’s economy and is reportedly the primary figure responsible for its staggering economic growth and progress in the 2000s after Erdogan came to power, announced that he would establish his own party along with previous AKP officials last year.

According to the UK-based news organisation Middle East Eye, sources said that the party is to be named the Democracy and Progress Party with the acronym of Deva, which in Turkish means “remedy”. The new party has not officially announced its name, however, but will reportedly do so at a press conference tomorrow.

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Babacan left the AKP in July last year after outlining a number of differences and disagreements with the ruling government regarding the rule of law, democracy and its economic policies.

He declared that he would set up a new party before 2020 began, but there were allegedly obstacles which prevented him from doing so, such as trouble in hiring professional staff and disagreements even over the programme of the new party.

Speaking in an interview to Turkish Fox News yesterday, Babacan said: “We are in need to revive the rule of law, freedoms and universal values, to create a more liveable Turkey for its citizens.” He criticised the government run by Erdogan and stated that “It is impossible to realise that with this administration. The country cannot prosper with this style of politics.”

President Erdogan has come under significant criticism in recent years over claims that his party is decreasing in democratic principles and abusing the rule of law, stemming particularly from the failed coup attempt against him in July 2016 and the massive crackdown that followed, which saw tens of thousands of nationals from all work sectors arrested or made redundant due to their alleged links to the rival Gulen movement. Freedom of press has also reportedly been largely repressed in Turkey.

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This was not helped by Erdogan’s national referendum to alter the constitution and make Turkey adopt an executive Presidential system. He won the vote and attained higher powers as President of the Republic. Babacan has promised that his new party would reverse this and try to re-establish parliamentary democracy.

Babacan is not the only former official to participate in the founding of this new party, the founders list also includes the names of former ministers Sadullah Ergin, Nihat Ergun and Selma Aliye Kavaf. Another founder has been revealed to be Mustafa Yeneroglu, who was a senior official and MP of the AKP before he was kicked out of the party last year due to disagreements over alleged human rights violations.