Turkey’s former deputy premier launches party to challenge Erdogan

Special Turkey’s former deputy premier launches party to challenge Erdogan
Former Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan has warned about the dangers of ‘one-man rule’ in the country. (AN photo)
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Updated 12 March 2020

Turkey’s former deputy premier launches party to challenge Erdogan

Turkey’s former deputy premier launches party to challenge Erdogan
  • Babacan promises to cure country’s political, economic deficiencies

ANKARA: Turkey’s former deputy prime minister, Ali Babacan, on Wednesday launched a new political party to challenge his ex-ally President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The 52-year-old former economy minister, who quit the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in July last year over “deep disagreements” with Erdogan, officially applied to the Turkish Ministry of the Interior to register his party under the name Remedy (Deva).

Since his resignation, Babacan has claimed that Turkey was passing through a “dark tunnel” and has warned about the dangers of “one-man rule” in the country.

Turkey’s economic recession, high unemployment rates, and government loss of management over major cities such as Istanbul and Ankara in last year’s municipal elections, have sparked the formation of new breakaway parties from the AKP.

At the launch event in Ankara, Babacan called for wide-ranging reforms to strengthen the rule of law and democracy.

The mainly young and female profile of the Remedy party’s council not only includes ex-ministers from the AKP but also key names from the business sector, military, and civil society along with managers of multinational companies.

Having presided over Turkey’s economy from 2009 to 2015, Babacan blamed the country’s economic deterioration on its democratic deficit. He also repeated his opposition to the shift from a parliamentary to a presidential system in Turkey, criticized the crackdown on the media, and lamented the Central Bank’s lack of independence.

“Our citizens are worried about their future; human rights violations and curtailing of liberties are making it impossible for our society to breathe. Our women are concerned about living under constant threat. Turkey is such a great country that cannot be restricted to one wisdom and a narrow establishment,” he said.

Political analyst Nezih Onur Kuru, from Koc University in Istanbul, said the democratic, professional and technocrat image of the party’s founders’ council gave Babacan a political advantage.

“Babacan showed a positive performance toward economic development and democratization during his term under the AKP. Therefore, his past records and achievements are very valuable references,” he told Arab News.

In promising a cure for the country’s political and economic deficiencies via his new party, Kuru added that Babacan still had a high brand value at home and abroad. As a politician coming from a conservative and industrialist family, he also has ties with the Turkish business community.

However, Remedy’s success and that of another breakaway party, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s Future Party, will depend on their approach to Erdogan’s policy style and political alliances.

According to Kuru, the Remedy party will appeal not only to disillusioned AKP voters but also to center and right segments of society and those with no political allegiances.

Babacan’s party program also put emphasis on youth unemployment, which had reached 24 percent according to latest statistics.

Babacan gained a master’s degree from Northwestern University in Chicago between 1990 and 1992 with a Fulbright scholarship from the US. He has also worked as a financial consultant to top executives of major American banks.

To coincide with the launch of Babacan’s new party, Erdogan delivered a speech in which criticized the breakaway parties and said: “Every initiative that is put forward and branded as ‘new’ once again proves the need and demand for the AKP.”