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Former Turkish deputy PM to set up party to rival Erdogan’s AKP

Ali Babacan said the party would be formed by the end of the year [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 September, 2019

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Former Turkish deputy prime minister Ali Babacan has told a Turkish newspaper that he will form a new political party to challenge President Erdogan’s AKP.
Turkey's former deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan has announced plans to form a new political party to challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party.

In an interview with Turkey’s Karar newspaper, Babacan said that the party will be formed by the end of this year, months after he resigned from the ruling party citing "deep differences".

Babacan told Karar that the AKP was not living up to its founding principles and that he was working to find people with similar ideas in order to lead the new party.

"Values like human rights, freedoms, populist democracy and the rule of law are ones that we always defend and believe in. These principles are not a periodic political preference for us," he said, adding that the AKP had been committed to these in the past.

"After all these achievements, the condition in which Turkey is currently in truly saddens us. When we look at why it is in this condition, the main reason is that it has strayed from the practice of these values and principles."

He said that former Turkish President Abdullah Gul, who was also previously a member of the AKP, was supportive of his efforts but not officially included in the new party.

There have been rumours for some time that Babacan and Gul would form a new party to rival the AKP. Efforts to create it increased when the AKP suffered defeat in the Istanbul mayoral elections.

An economic recession, worries over the independence of the Turkish judiciary, and populist antipathy towards the 3 million plus Syrian refugees in Turkey have seen the AKP lose popularity in recent months.

The AKP currently relies on an alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to maintain a majority in the Turkish parliament. The formation of a new rival party could cause a severe electoral threat to it.

President Erdogan has warned members of the AKP thinking of joining Babacan's new party that those who "get off this train will not be allowed back in".

Last week, the AKP began a process to expel former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who fell out with Erdogan in 2016 after criticising his economic policies and election campaign rhetoric.

Turkey's next nationwide elections will be held in 2023.

Agencies contributed to this report

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