Former Erdogan ally launches much-anticipated rival party

Former Erdogan ally launches much-anticipated rival party
Former economy czar Ali Babacan will officially launch the party on Wednesday after a months-long wait.
2 min read
09 March, 2020
Babacan's party will likely leech votes from the ruling AKP [Anadolu]
Former Turkish deputy prime minister Ali Babacan on Monday applied to form a long-awaited new political party set to compete for votes with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Babacan announced his resignation from the AKP last July over "deep differences" regarding its direction. The move to formally establish a new party under his leadership has been anticipated since then.

Alongside a party founded by a former prime minister late last year, it is expected to leech votes from the ruling AKP.

The new party will be called the Democracy and Progress Party, according to local media. Its Turkish acronym, DEVA, means remedy.

Babacan told reporters his supporters would submit a formal request to the interior ministry on Monday to establish the party.

He added that he would formally launch the party on Wednesday this week.

Conspicuously absent from a list of founding members of the party released by local media were allies of former president Abdullah Gul who were expected to join in its launch.

The party will prioritise media rights and freedom of speech, Babacan told FOX TV.

Erdogan's government has been routinely criticised for attacks on freedom of the press. Turkey is the world's second worst jailer of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

A founding member of Erdogan's AKP, which has ruled Turkey since 2002, Babacan served as economic and foreign minister before becoming deputy prime minister from 2009 to 2015.

Turkey has faced an economic crisis over the past few years, circumstances that have eroded support for the AKP.

Another former ally of the Turkish president, Ahmet Davutoglu, also founded a rival political party late last year.

The former prime minister launched his Future Party (GP) in December, which he said would push for a new constitution and a return to the parliamentary system which Turkey left behind after a 2018 referendum to increase presidential powers.

The AKP currently relies on an alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to maintain a majority in parliament.

If either Davutoglu or Babacan's parties pass the 10 percent electoral threshold, they are expected to leech votes from the AKP and prevent it from being able to form a majority government. 

Turkey's next general elections are not scheduled to take place until 2023.

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